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
- 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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com. 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
- 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:
- 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
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a separate application for the First-Year Residential Experience (FYRE) Program?
No, there is not a separate FYRE Program application! Eligible students will automatically be placed in the FYRE Community.
Am I eligible to live in student housing at UAA?
In order to live in student housing at UAA, you must be an admitted student enrolled in at least 9 undergraduate or 3 graduate credits. Students must be at least 16 years old to live on campus, and 16-17 year old students must have a parent or guardian sign the Housing and Dining Agreement on their behalf. UAA may also deny housing to a student based on their behavioral or criminal history; these determinations are made on a case-by-case basis.
- How do I apply for student housing at UAA?
I have lived on campus for two semesters, but I didn’t move in until later in my first
semester. Does that first semester still count towards my eligibility requirement
of two semesters?
As long as you were a residential student with an active housing assignment on the day of the withdrawal deadline, the semester would count towards the time spent in student housing used to determine FYRE Program participation eligibility.
I was placed in the FYRE Community, but I am also a UA Scholar or an admitted student
in the University Honors College, and I want to live in the Academic Honors Living
Learning Community (LLC). Is that possible?
We are thrilled you are interested in being a part of the Academic Honors LLC!
However, students who meet the criteria for the FYRE Program are required to be placed in the FYRE Community. We hope you will consider applying for the Academic Honors LLC in your second year!
I was placed in the FYRE Community, but I am also an aviation major or in a health
sciences related field, and I want to live in the corresponding LLC. Is that possible?
We are thrilled you are interested in being a part of the Aviation or Health Sciences & Professions LLC! However, students who meet the criteria for the FYRE Program are required to be placed in the FYRE Community. We hope you will consider applying for one of our LLCs in your second year!
I am part of the ANSEP program or a UAA Student Athlete. Do I have to live in the
ANSEP and Athletics have demonstrated to Residence Life that their programs fulfill the learning outcomes for the FYRE Program. They have also articulated the benefit their students receive from being roommates with other members of their organization. Therefore, Residence Life has agreements in place with these organizations that provide certain students an exception to this policy. Please check with Residence Life or the organization to find out if you have an exemption in place. Students who belong to these organizations and have been placed in rooms by them do not need to submit a request for exception to this policy.
I experience a disability that makes living in a residence hall difficult for me.
Do I still have to participate in the program?
All requests for exception to this policy should start with an email to the Director of Residence Life at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. The Director of Residence Life will review all requests and contact the resident should it be necessary to refer the student to Disability Support Services to seek an accommodation. The Director of Residence Life will give the student detailed instructions on how to request the accommodation from Disability Support Services.
I was planning on requesting a roommate but I have been placed in the FYRE Community
and they are not in the FYRE Community. Is there any way we can still live together?
In order for Residence Life to approve a request for exception to the FYRE Program Participation Requirement based on a roommate request, the resident must be able to demonstrate that the benefit the resident would gain from the roommate situation would exceed the value of their participation in the FYRE Program. This is generally a high bar to reach, but we are happy to try and help accommodate these requests when possible.
Depending on the reason the resident is not in the FYRE Program, Residence Life may be able to place them in the FYRE Community to accommodate your roommate request. A general exception to this would be placing students who are over 21 with students in the FYRE Community who are under 21. All requests for exception should be submitted via email to the Director of Residence Life at email@example.com. 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.