UK 101 readies students for independence


William T Young Library

Emily Scott

As the semester is drawing to a close, retention rates are being closely examined, particularly with freshmen students who completed UK 101 courses.

UK 101 is a program designed to better acclimate new students to life on campus. The course includes lessons on the most effective study skills, health and nutrition habits, plagiarism and other university policies. Furthermore, the courses offer new students a safe space to ask questions and address their concerns about an independent lifestyle.

Sarah Montgomery, a UK 101 instructor, has greatly enjoyed her experience this semester. She said that it has been challenging, as she maintains a full time job as well as instructing, but also rewarding, as she has gotten to see her students’ progress and has been given the opportunity to build relationships with each of them.

“They get the heart of the lesson plan, so there’s not tangible knowledge that I want them to leave with, but I hope they know that they are heard, cared about and supported,” Montgomery said.

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With universities as large as UK’s, retention rates are always being studied, particularly with the implementation of courses such as UK 101. While Montgomery knows that retention rates are crucial, she feels that it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what causes a student to stay at a certain school or to transfer.

“It’s hard to say because retention is such a complex issue. Students need to be connected in different ways to make the decision to stay at UK… It’s too much pressure for one entity to have,” Montgomery said.

Lauren Goodpaster, one of the program’s directors, always pays close attention to retention rates between students who take UK 101 and students who do not.  

“UK 101 makes a difference in retention,” Goodpaster said. She also said that this positive trend in retention rates holds true for students across the board, but there are naturally some subpopulations of students, including students from areas outside of Kentucky, students of different races, genders, first generation students and students participating in Living Learning Programs, where the difference is more drastic.

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In addition, Goodpaster said that UK 101 has changed significantly since it first began on campus in 1991. In the upcoming school year, the program will continue to progress and potentially undergo various curriculum changes in an effort to further increase retention rates and benefit the students. 

“We have to look at the trends and the students and change along with them,” Goodpaster said.  

One change that Goodpaster hopes to avoid, however, is the smaller class sizes. The topics covered are important, but the holistic approach to a smaller class size and closer relationships should never be underestimated, according to Goodpaster.

While Goodpaster enjoys studying the trends and altering the program to further increase retention, she initially became involved in the program because she enjoys helping students transition to college life and seeing them build relationships with other peers and their instructors.