2024 FYE Conference Reflections from U-Thrive

U-Thrive Educational Services recently had the opportunity to exhibit at the Annual Conference on the First-Year Experience in downtown Seattle, Washington. This annual event offers an ongoing forum where higher education professionals can share experiences, concerns, and accomplishments related to supporting student learning, development, and success in the first college year. Attendees are invited to take an active role in productive collaborations, conversations, and relationship building.

About the Event Host

The National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition serves as the trusted expert, internationally recognized leader, and clearinghouse for scholarship, policy, and best practice for all postsecondary student transitions.

Keynotes Speakers Included: Amelia Parnell, Jessica Rowland Williams, and Brendan Kelly

Sample of Interactive Sessions on Key Topics:

  • Implementing an Advising Syllabus to Shape First-Year Student Success
  • The Effect of Emotional Wellness on Community College Students
  • Cultivating Resilience Among Challenges in the First Year Experience 
  • University of Nebraska-Kearney Case Study: Proactively Supporting Student Mental Health

Visit the 44th Annual Conference on The First-Year Experience website for a complete list of the great speakers and events that took place at this year’s meeting.

Key Takeaways from the U-Thrive Team

The need to meet students where they are. As colleges and universities explore the possibilities of introducing new programming, improving current offerings, and finding innovative ways to attract more students, it becomes evident that we should focus on aligning ourselves closer to the student experience, instead of expecting them to seek us out. We should ask ourselves: where do students already gather, how do we communicate as a school community, and how can we make use of these spaces and opportunities to provide more proactive resources for the students? By meeting students at different stages of their college journey, we demonstrate our genuine concern for their overall experience, success, and well-being.

The importance of measuring impact. There is power in the student voice!  So how do you capture it in a meaningful way?  In a recent Inside Higher Ed article, Caroline Mehl of the Constructive Dialogue Institute notes “Impact can be measured at a variety of levels, including attitudes, beliefs, competence, behaviors and sense of culture.” U-Thrive is actively working with partners in 2024 to continue to capture meaningful outcomes to help demonstrate the effectiveness of integrating proactive mental and emotional wellness solutions into curricular and cocurricular programming.

The prevalence of compassion fatigue and burnout among higher education staff and faculty is still lingering and cannot be ignored. As compassionate individuals, our intention is to establish safe and supportive environments for students to express and process their experiences, without becoming overwhelmed by the emotions and stress they convey. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that we cannot effectively provide care if we neglect our own well-being. By remaining mindful and granting ourselves permission to prioritize self-care, we can continue to be present for others. Often, mental health training places emphasis on supporting students, yet faculty and staff in higher education are also eager to acquire proactive skills for their own mental and emotional well-being.

The recognition of the benefit of taking a campus-wide approach to supporting student mental health. Mental health issues bleed into all aspects of college students’ lives. Faculty and staff are seeing this in their interactions with students and want to do something about it, rather than solely referring students to their on-campus counseling center.

The increased demand for brief and impactful mental and emotional wellness activities that all instructors can implement. Faculty and staff on college campuses are open to supporting their students in taking an active role in their own mental health and well-being. They are building a foundation of trust throughout the semester. It’s the perfect place to integrate a brief activity that would allow students to build confidence and self-efficacy, and to learn a new skill.

U-Thrive Educational Services’ solutions help students adopt life skills for thriving throughout college and beyond. Contact us today to learn how to bring our proactive mental and emotional wellness solutions to your campus.

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