Where Excellence Begins

University College Serves as the Entry Point for Many LSU Students

University College provides academic advising and support services that assist first year and some continuing students in defining their educational goals, pursing admission to a senior college, and ultimately earning a degree.
Jim Zietz/LSU University Relations

Of all of the colleges and schools at LSU, only one area can claim that it is the portal of entry for most incoming freshman enrolling at the university, and that's University College.

University College assists with the recruitment and retention of students who enroll at the university. The college provides academic advising and support services that assist first year and some continuing students in defining their educational goals, pursing admission to a senior college, and ultimately earning a degree. The college provides a support system for students to encourage their growth and success at LSU.

"University College is proud of its efforts to retain students at LSU and to see them move into senior colleges and eventually graduate," said University College Executive Director Paul Ivey, who noted that during the 2010-2011 academic year, University College counselors had more than 29,000 direct in-office contacts with students seeking assistance.

With a freshman to sophomore year retention of around 85 percent, University College has shown its dedication to students achieving excellence at LSU. Academic and personal success is the hallmark of a well-rounded student, and University College provides a foundation of support services for students beginning their academic careers at LSU.

"It is gratifying for us to see students succeed," Ivey said. "More importantly, it is rewarding to our staff to see students who initially may struggle with adjusting to the academic and personal challenges of college life, and through our intervention and referrals to other campus support systems, we see students succeed."

University College was established at the university in 1933 at "Lower Division," as it's the entry point for many starting their college career at LSU, whether they are incoming freshmen or returning students and transfer students who are not yet eligible for admission to a degree-granting senior college on campus.

"While in UC, students have an opportunity to confirm their choice of major and work toward meeting the requirements set by each senior college," Ivey said. "Typically students move to a senior college by the end of their first year, but if necessary can continue their enrollment for a period of time while settling on a major and meeting the necessary senior college admission requirements."

There are three things University College wants every student to know:

"Counselors are readily available for students to be advised and counseled on the degree requirements for all majors at LSU," Ivey said. "Because LSU does not offer a freshman seminar course, our offices are accessible to students to have their questions answered and to be offered guidance with LSU's many academic policies and procedures."

During this spring's "A Celebration of Excellence," University College recognized students, faculty and staff with $56,000 in awards and scholarships.
University College

Divisions and Programs

There are two enrollment divisions of University College: Center for Freshman Year and University Center for Advising and Counseling.

The Center for Freshman Year, or UCFY, enrolls approximately 6,400 students each fall and is the home to most new freshman at LSU. This group includes students with fewer than 30 hours of college credit who have not been admitted to a senior college.

UCFY provides broad based academic counseling programs to educate students about the vast array of majors, programs and educational experiences that the university has to offer.  In addition, students are introduced to the rules, regulations, policies and procedures that will be a part of the college experience at LSU.

Through personal and group centered advising, UCFY assists students in developing their career and professional goals and prepares them for their entry to senior colleges and ultimately to graduation.

The University Center for Advising and Counseling, or UCAC, enrolls approximately 2,800 students in the fall. This group includes students who have earned 30-plus hours of college credit and who have not yet met the admission requirements from one of the university's degree-granting senior colleges. Other special populations such as visiting students, cross-enrolled students from other institutions, and non-matriculating students who are not working toward degrees are also included in UCAC.

UCAC aims to develop individual education plans and provide programming that lead students toward their goal of entry to a senior college.

In addition to UCFY and UCAC, a variety of retention-specific programs that focus on particular student populations are a significant part of the role and mission of University College. These include Student Support Services, Ronald E. McNair Research Scholars Program, Summer Scholars Program, and Allied Heath and Pre-Nursing Advising.

Student Support Services, or SSS, is a comprehensive, federally funded TRIO program that serves a small, select number of undergraduate students. SSS provides assistance at every stage of undergraduate education, from deciding when what classes to schedule to preparing for a first job interview. The program provides intensive academic, personal, and career counseling to assist participating students in achieving success at LSU. Students who make a commitment to participate fully in their educational process will find great benefits in SSS.

The Ronald E. McNair Research Scholars Program, also a federally funded TRIO program, was named for African-American astronaut and physicist Ronald Erwin McNair, who died during the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986. The program promotes diversity of life experiences, cultures and perspectives in academia by providing support to 30 first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students from LSU, Southern University and Southeastern Louisiana University seeking admission to graduate school.

The Department of Education's federal grant responsible for the McNair Program has given many under-represented students the opportunity to prepare for graduate study with the goal for each participant to attain a doctoral degree. To date, 84 percent of LSU's McNair scholars have earned a graduate degree or are currently enrolled in graduate school.

Academic and personal success is the hallmark of a well-rounded student, and University College provides a foundation of support services for students beginning their academic careers at LSU.
Jim Zietz/LSU University Relations

Students in the program participate in activities such as faculty mentorship and research, regular one-on-one counseling with McNair Program staff and graduate school entrance exam preparation. Each student is expected to conduct their research, write about it and make a public presentation at a national conference regarding their research topic. In addition, the McNair Program provides a variety of resources, including funding for undergraduate research and access to laptop computers, iPads and digital cameras.

"This type of experience through the McNair program has been instrumental in former students earning graduate study opportunities with fellowships from the National Science Foundation and awards from prestigious competitions such as the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Program," Ivey said.

The LSU Summer Scholars Program is an eight-week summer program that prepares selected under-represented minority students to make a successful transition from high school to the university. This summer experience offers students the opportunity to become adjusted to the academic, personal and social challenges they may encounter at LSU.

"The Summer Scholars Program is an opportunity for incoming minority students to arrive on campus for a summer experience that not only involves enrollment in freshman level classes, but also the opportunity to integrate themselves to the campus community and build a network of fellow students who support each other and grow together in a close bond that lasts beyond their freshman year," Ivey said.

Summer Scholars Program students are provided with a structured environment conducive to building the fundamental skills necessary to enhance the likelihood of successful completion of a bachelor's degree. In addition to tutoring, sessions on study skills and academic and leadership development workshops, the program provides extensive academic and personal counseling to prepare students for the challenges many new freshman encounter.
Ivey said that former participants in the Summer Scholars Program live by the motto, "Once a Scholar, Always a Scholar," so the networking opportunities extend far beyond the boundaries of campus.

Students looking to focus their studies on a health related field – nursing, medical technology, respiratory therapy, dental hygiene, or dental laboratory technology – may follow a non-degree granting, pre-requisite program to prepare students to apply for study in degree-granting programs at one of the campuses of the LSU Health Sciences Center or possibly one of several state and private schools offering degrees in these area. Students typically spend the first two to three years of their undergraduate careers at LSU. University College provides advising assistance for these allied health students as they prepare for the selective admission process for these professional programs.

Scholarships and Awards

University College recognizes students, faculty and staff at an awards reception, "A Celebration of Excellence." At the event, college awards the Teachers of the Year, the Advisor of the Year and the Teaching Assistant of the Year, as well as a number of student scholarships.

During this year's "A Celebration of Excellence," University College awarded a total of nine teaching awards: seven $1,000 TAF teaching awards, one $1,000 George Deer teaching award to be used for academic support and one $500 teaching assistant award funded by both the Alumni Association and University College. University College also provided the Advisor of the Year with a $1,000 cash award. First-year students submit nominations for the Teacher of the Year awards and University College committees comprised of advisory board members and staff make the selections.

"Due to the generosity of private benefactors and funding from both the LSU Athletic Department and the Tiger Athletic Foundation, University College was able to award $56,000 in awards and scholarships this spring," Ivey said. "This recognition is important to encourage excellence amongst our faculty, staff and students."
The college also awarded 46 scholarships to students at $1,000 each. Scholarships vary in criteria and are awarded to students identified through the university's scholarship query database.

For more information on University College and its programs, visit http://uiswcmsweb.prod.lsu.edu/universitycollege/UniversityCollege/index.html.