Business First-Year Engagement Plan

Business FYE Plan (PDF)

First-Year Engagement Plan
Smeal College of Business

Submission Date: January 30, 2009
Submitted By: Gus Colangelo
Title: Associate Dean
College/Unit: Smeal College of Business

Background. The First-Year Seminar legislation passed by the University Faculty Senate on April 29, 2008, requires that each University Park college and DUS submit a First-Year Engagement plan. The complete Senate legislation is available online at; parts of the legislation are reproduced in this form.

As your unit’s contact, please briefly provide the information requested below. A lengthy response is not needed if the information can be provided by checking a box, or supplying a sentence or two or a paragraph. However, if your unit’s First-Year Engagement plan does not fit the options in the form below, please contact Yvonne Gaudelius (Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education and co-chair, FYE Committee, for alternative instructions. Thank you in advance for your participation in this process.

1. First-Year Seminar characteristics. University Park colleges are required to provide at least one credit of first-year seminar. Does your first-year seminar meet the following criteria? All criteria below (a-e) must be met for the plan to fulfill the legislation.

The criterion below is followed by your College/Unit.

a. taught by tenure-line or other regular, full-time faculty members (*the college dean may grant reasonable exceptions, such as for professional practitioners who teach annually but whose appointments are not full-time)

If the college dean plans to grant an exception, please provide explanation in space below. (Please limit your answer to 500 words or less.)

In a typical academic year, out of approximately 50 FYS sections, we anticipate no less than 10% of the total FYS sections will be taught by part-time professionally qualified faculty who have had a ongoing affiliation with the Smeal College of Business. Each appointment will be approved by the Dean and reviewed on an annual basis.

b. taught in the student’s college of enrollment (in other words, you will provide a
FYS for all incoming students in your college)

c. taught in sections of not more than 25 students

d. academic in content, exemplifying the full weightiness and expectations of
University-level coursework (ideally satisfying General Education or other College or Major requirements, though this is not essential)

e. explicitly address the FYE goals and objectives, which are listed here:


  • Goal 1: to engage students in learning and orient them to the scholarly community from the outset of their undergraduate studies in a way that will bridge to later experiences in their chosen majors, and
  • Goal 2: to facilitate students’ adjustment to the high expectations, demanding workload, increased liberties, and other aspects of the transition to college life


  • Objective 1: to introduce students to University study
  • Objective 2: to introduce students to Penn State as an academic community, including fields of study and areas of interest available to students
  • Objective 3: to acquaint students with the learning tools and resources available at Penn State
  • Objective 4: to provide an opportunity for students to develop relationships with full-time faculty and other students in an academic area of interest to them
  • Objective 5: to introduce students to their responsibilities as part of the University community.

2. Credit requirements. How many credits does your required first-year seminar provide? Please answer 1 Credit, 2 Credits, 3 Credits, or Other (For example, different sections provide 1, 2, or 3 credits).

1 Credit

3. Supplemental programming. [This question must be answered unless your unit will require all students to take a 3-credit first-year seminar. If your unit will require all students to take a 3-credit first-year seminar, this question is optional, though responding is encouraged because supplemental programming will help to make your unit’s overall first-year experience richer.]

Identify and briefly describe the additional components (other than the small-class experience) that you plan to offer, such as other courses, special advising programs, intensive orientation experiences, special programs offered by Student Affairs, etc., to meet the goals and objectives of the First-Year Engagement Plan: (Please limit your answer to 500 words or less.)

In addition to completing a First-Year Seminar in the summer or fall semester, Smeal College first-year students participate in a series of social/academic preparation activities that begin prior to the start of FTCAP and continue through the fall semester and into the spring semester. Organized activities and programs open to all students include:

  • Pre-FTCAP Homework – A web-based tutorial/planning guide to assist students in preparing for their visit to Penn State and FTCAP.
  • FTCAP – A college-specific academic orientation that is a follow-up to the morning University program. Information about the curriculum, the entrance-to-major process, and other opportunities for Smeal students is shared. Students work with advisers to create summer and/or fall schedules while parents learn more about what their sons and daughters will experience in their first year and about University resources.
  • College Meeting – Each semester, the college Dean, faculty and staff welcome new students and review the Smeal College’s programs, activities, and opportunities. Afterwards, the academic advisers and the Smeal student mentors meet with their students to review the advising process and address individual concerns.
  • Smeal Student Mentors — All Smeal first-year students are assigned a mentor. These are a selected group of upper-class students that serve as a first contact on campus and assist with the transition to college and campus life. The mentors also sponsor several engagement/learning events in the Fall Semester.
    • Welcome BBQ – Held during the first week of classes for new students.
    • FYS Guest Speaker – All Smeal FYS classes are visited by a team of mentors during the second week of classes. Mentors focus on tips for thriving and not just surviving at Penn State.
    • Majors Panel Night – Mentors sponsor an evening where juniors and seniors in each of the eight Smeal majors are on-hand to meet with first-year students to discuss majors, internships, and job opportunities.
    • Scheduling Social – An evening of pizza and discussion to assist first-year students in course selection and scheduling planning for the spring semester.
  • Involvement Fair – The University’s involvement fair held during the first week of classes in fall and spring. Smeal College student organizations are well represented at this event and actively recruit new students to join their organizations.
  • Study Abroad – The Smeal College International Office offers evening information sessions on study abroad opportunities along with staffing a recruitment table in the building atrium several times throughout the year.
  • Smeal Advising Center – All students in the Smeal College are assigned an academic advisor who is available to meet with them to review degree requirements and course scheduling. First-year students meet their advisor for the first time at the College Meeting. During the add/drop period at the start of the semester, advisors are available on a walk-in basis to assist students with urgent scheduling matters. During the semester, advisors are available on an appointment basis with some time allotted for quick drop-by questions. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor at least once a year.
  • Smeal College BIG Event – This annual January event is an opportunity for first and second year students to meet with faculty to learn about the different majors offered by the college and the career and internship possibilities associated with each major. In addition to presentations, academic departments, student support services units, and student clubs and fraternities set up display booths throughout the building atrium for students to visit, gather information and ask questions.
  • Smeal EXPLORE – An opportunity for Smeal students at campuses to be engaged in the college and learn about the opportunities that await them when they arrive at University Park. This program is currently in the planning and development stages.

4. How will you accommodate DUS students? You have been provided with data showing a rolling average number of students who have moved from DUS into your academic unit in recent years; briefly indicate how you will accommodate this approximate number. (Please limit your answer to 500 words or less.)

Our assigned FYS target for DUS students is 506 students annually. For DUS students, we will reserve 10-12 spaces apiece in 40 FYS fall semester sections. DUS advisors will determine the registration of students into these spaces. The remaining target cohort of DUS students will be accommodated in summer sections of FYS and LEAP. Additional sections will be offered in spring for students accepted to the University at that time.

In addition to providing DUS students with a FYS, the Smeal College offers a series of engagement activities designed specifically for DUS students at University Park and other Penn State campuses that are similar to services offered to Smeal College first-year students. These activities includes:

  • Smeal/DUS Listserv – All DUS students interested in pursuing a Smeal major are encouraged to sign up for the Smeal/DUS Listserv which keeps students informed of activities and events going on in the college along with special announcements about degree requirements, course scheduling, and alerts to academic changes.
  • Smeal Student Mentors – The student mentors have an office in the HUB and are available three days a week for a total of nine hours weekly to meet with DUS students who have questions regarding the Smeal College and the opportunities available to them. In addition, all mentor programs and activities in the college are open to DUS students.
  • Faculty Presentations – Annually Smeal College faculty participate in career awareness events sponsored by DUS.

In addition to accommodating DUS students in the FYS and sponsoring special communication and support programs, the Smeal College opens all of its student activities and presentations to DUS students. Smeal faculty and staff communicate regularly with DUS staff on issues that involve their students.

5. Assessment Plan. How will you assess the extent to which the First-Year Engagement goals and objectives are met? (Please limit your answer to 500 words or less.)

The Smeal College has been conducting assessment in its first-year courses and activities for several years. These assessment activities will be adjusted to accommodate the updated goals and objectives stated for the FYE. The assessment plan includes:

First Year Seminar – The Smeal FYS includes a pre and post survey to assess student’s attitudes and beliefs towards academic and social issues impacting campus life. The information is reviewed to see if concepts covered in the course have impact on students and to identify gaps in the curriculum that need to be addressed.

Smeal FYS faculty meet at the beginning of the semester and at mid-semester to discuss successes and concerns associated with the FYS. Best practices are shared along with brainstorming new ideas and solutions to re-occurring conflicts. A new meeting will be held in the Spring semester to update course goals and objectives and to share ideas on how to measure learning in the classroom.

Student Engagement Activities – The various student engagement activities in the college include assessment efforts. Feedback is normally used for program improvement. The information will also be used to assess the overall FYE. Assessment activities include:

  • FTCAP – As a follow-up to FTCAP, families are asked to complete an on-line questionnaire about their experience in FTCAP and if they were satisfied with the information they received and the courtesies extended to them.
  • Smeal Student Mentors – The student mentors consists of over 120 members governed by a six-member student board (and Smeal advisor) and managed by eight team leaders. Student mentors go through an application and interview process and must commit a set amount of time to the program. The board meets weekly and the team leaders meet every two weeks to discuss program planning, agendas and concerns that arise. General meetings are held monthly with all members. Starting this year the mentors will be holding focus group meetings with first-year students and with mentors to review the program and see if the objectives outlined at the beginning of the year have had an impact on student behavior and expectations.
  • Program Debriefings – Each special program sponsored by the Smeal College is reviewed afterwards by the faculty, students and staff sponsoring it. Best practices and emerging concerns are identified along with ideas for future improvements.

The Smeal College has been under strict enrollment management standards for several years. Admissions and entrance-to-major requirements are necessary to ensure adequate resources are in place to accommodate students accepted into a major. These enrollment management activities are monitored closely by the Dean’s Office. Retention studies are conducted and findings are shared with the college and the University. These retention studies will be expanded beyond controlling enrollment to include retention, academic participation, academic excellence and student satisfaction. Two survey tools are currently being developed to address self-efficacy and student satisfaction in addition to the ongoing learning assessment associated with the college’s professional accreditation and the University’s accreditation. Results from these assessment activities that pertain to first-year students will be used in refining the FYE program.