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First-Year Residential Experience (FYRE)

 

Starting in the fall of 2022, the Department of Residence Life will implement a requirement that first-time, first-year students who live in student housing at UAA participate in the First-Year Residential Experience (FYRE) Program. This means that students who choose to live in student housing who meet the definition of first-time, first-year student will automatically be assigned a room in the FYRE Community located in East Hall. UAA strongly believes in the importance of a student’s first year in college and its influence on the rest of a student’s collegiate journey. 

The FYRE Program is designed to incorporate the following attributes into a student’s living environment: 

  • Social Engagement
  • Academic Success
  • Integration into Campus and College Life
  • Connection to Resources and Support Systems
  • Leadership, Civic Engagement and Professional Development Opportunities

This is what makes living in student housing so unique! In no other place where a student could live while going to college will they experience this level of support, so many opportunities to engage and connect, or a program so intentionally crafted for their success! The only component we are missing now is you! Please visit the How to Apply for Housing page on our website for detailed instructions on submitting your housing application.

Benefits of the Program

  • Opportunity to live with other students experiencing the transition to college and create strong social connections that will persist long after you graduate
  • An environment focused on and conducive to academic success
  • A team of live-in staff members dedicated to your success and hired specifically with the needs of first-year students in mind
  • Access to resources and programming based on research on the needs of first-year students
  • Independent living in a supportive environment with skill building opportunities

Students gather in a Residence Hall lobby

Learning Outcomes

  • Sense of Belonging: strengthen the residents’ sense of belonging at the institution and their connection to the community. 
  • Connection to Staff and Faculty: connect residents to staff and administrators, especially in key student-facing positions, as well as faculty members teaching General Education Requirements courses. 
  • Leadership and Engagement: expose residents to leadership and other engagement opportunities available to them in the community.
  • Connection to Resources: orient residents to the resources available to them at the institution, especially ones geared towards their academic success and the needs of first year students.
  • Social Connections: create social connections among residents to tie them to the institution further and combat homesickness. 
  • Orientation to Campus: familiarize residents with the campus, as well as the traditions, norms, and language associated with college life. 
  • Life Skill Building: build the skills necessary for personal and professional success after college. 
  • Financial Planning: connect residents to scholarship and funding opportunities, especially those targeted at first generation college students.

Participation Requirement Details

In the fall of 2022, The FYRE Program will move from North Hall to its new home in East Hall. In the event East Hall should reach maximum occupancy, FYRE Program participants will be placed in West Hall. Wings in West Hall designated as overflow for the FYRE Program will be fully integrated into the program and will be overseen by the same Residence Coordinator with Resident Advisor specifically selected for the program. 

The FYRE Participation Requirement Policy applies to residents who meet Residence Life’s definition of a first-time, first-year student under the age of 21. The FYRE Participation Requirement differs from first-year live-on requirements common at many colleges and universities in that this policy only applies to UAA students who choose to live in student housing; it is not a general requirement that all first-year students at UAA have to live in student housing. 

This policy is enforced in the form of the automatic placement of residents who meet all the criteria for eligibility and do not have an approved exception on file with Residence Life in the FYRE Community. No additional application beyond the housing application is needed to live in the FYRE Community. Residents determined to be eligible for the FYRE Program will not be able to request to be placed in any of UAA’s Living Learning Communities (LLC) as these communities are housed outside of East Hall and the FYRE overflow wings in West Hall. Residence Life highly encourages FYRE residents to consider participation in one of our other LLCs once they complete their time in the FYRE Program.  

Residents who do not meet all of the criteria of a first-time, first-year student are generally considered ineligible for placement in the FYRE community. We highly encourage that all residents consider living in one of our LLCs for an exciting, engaging experience while living in student housing!

Eligibility Requirements

The FYRE Participation Requirement Policy requires residents who meet all the following criteria to live in the FYRE Community:

  • The student has lived in student housing at UAA less than two semesters* not including summer sessions
  • The student has earned less than 18 college credits**
  • The student is less than 21 years old 

Eligibility will be determined by the Department of Residence Life based on the information submitted by the student in their housing application and information gathered by the department and institution for verification purposes. 

If you believe your eligibility was not determined correctly, either resulting in placement in the FYRE Community or outside of it, please contact the Department of Residence Life at uaa_residencelife@alaska.edu to have your criteria reviewed. Please put in the subject line of your email “FYRE Program Eligibility Review" and include a description of the issues with any supporting documentation attached. 

*For the purposes of enforcing this policy, Residence Life will utilize the withdrawal deadline to determine if a resident lived in student housing for that semester.  Therefore, students must have been living in student housing on the withdrawal date in two semesters, fall or spring, to be deemed ineligible for placement in the FYRE Community. 

**UAA defines a freshman/first-year student as a student who has earned between 0-29 college credits. Residence Life uses 18 college credits to determine eligibility for the FYRE Program since residents must be enrolled in at least 9 undergraduate credits in order to be eligible for student housing. 

Requests for Exception

Students who have been identified as required to participate in the FYRE Program have the ability to request an exception to the process by submitting an appeal in writing to the Director of Residence Life via email at uaa_residencelife@alaska.edu. Please put in the subject line of your email “FYRE Program Exception" and include supporting statements or documentation as to why you are requesting an exception.

In general, appeals will be approved only in the following or similar circumstances:

  • The exception is considered a reasonable accommodation for a disability the student experiences as determined by Disability Support Services
  • The student can demonstrate that they have already received or are in the process of receiving the knowledge and skills outlined in the FYRE Program’s Learning Outcomes through participation in some other program or organization. 
  • The student would benefit from being roommates with another resident not in the FYRE Program. The student would need to demonstrate how the benefits of the roommate relationship would exceed the benefits the student would receive from participation in the FYRE Program.
    • Requests for exception based on a roommate request would be individually evaluated to determine available options that could include moving the FYRE resident outside of the FYRE Community or moving the non-FYRE resident into the FYRE Community.

Residence Life has agreements in place with some departments on campus and established that participation in their program qualifies for an exception as defined above. Students who are participants in these programs do not need to request an exception as described above.

Statement of Support from the Director of Residence Life

The concept of “going off to college” inspires in many of us images of recent high school graduates saying tearful goodbyes to friends and family before driving off into the sunset in a car packed to the brim. Perhaps others would associate going off to college with the daily experience of leaving the house they grew up in to arrive on campus at their hometown university, which they selected in order to support their family. Or the totally opposite image may be conjured of a young person flying to a far off country for an unforgettable journey as a foreign exchange student.

Regardless of what “going off to college” means to you, there is something that all of these scenarios have in common: the incredible experience of transitioning to college! This is an exciting time in a person’s life, but can also be challenging as students navigate their new environment. The challenge might be finding your classes in a sea of unfamiliar buildings, making new friends in your residence hall, feelings of homesickness, the difficulty of college courses, exploring new identities and challenging thoughts and ideas once deeply held, or any combination of these challenges or many others that can arise! College is a unique world with its own culture, language, rules and traditions. To give students the tools, support and resources they need to make this transition as successful as possible, we are pleased to offer our First-Year Residential Experience (FYRE) program as a comprehensive guide to your first year at UAA!

Decades of research on the transition to college has given us incredible insight into this time in a person’s life, including the most significant barriers to success and the most effective strategies to combat them. The staff in Residence Life work with partners across campus, and mostly with you, to build the first-year experience you need to set you on the path to achieving the goals you came to college with. We look forward to welcoming you to our community and your own “going off to college” story.

Welcome home, Seawolves!

Ryan J. Hill, Director of Residence Life

University of Alaska Anchorage

 

Research Regarding First-Year Experience Programs

  • Astin, A. W. (1984). Student Involvement: A developmental theory for higher education. Journal of College Student Personnel, 25, 297-308.
  • Chickering, Arthur W.; Gamson, Zelda F. AAHE Bulletin, p3-7 Mar 1987
  • Chickering, A. W., & Reisser, L. (1993). Education and identity (2nd ed.). San Francisco: 
  • Jossey-Bass.
  • Kuh, G. D., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J.H., Whitt, E.J., & Associates. (2005). Student success in
  • college: Creating conditions that matter. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
  • Liddell, D.L. & Lund, J.P. (Eds). (2000). Powerful programming for student learning: Approaches that make a difference. New Directions for Student Services, No. 90. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition: https://sc.edu/about/offices_and_divisions/national_resource_center/index.php

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Frequently Asked Questions