Dear 100 Hour Board,
Can you enlighten me on the history of Freshman Academy? Or is that history lost to the sands of time? Looking through the archives, it looks like it may have been done away with sometime around the 2009 - '10 school year.
---Portia vaguely remembers thinking it sounded lame
I know a little bit of the history and will tell you what I know. It's far from complete.
Freshman Academy began before 2002, but I cannot find a solid starting date (2002 was the first mention that I found). Initially, it was a program tied with the Honors program. From what I understand, students participating in Freshman Academy lived together and had a hall (or floor in a hall) dedicated to them; one for men and one for women. They had 2 or 3 classes that they would all take together and many of these were Honors classes. I don't think there was much of a choice between classes for them to take, they typically all took those "envelopes" of classes together. They also had mentors that were there to help them. Overall I have heard that the program was great and people really like it. It was very well received and was a way for incoming freshmen to meet others, gain a support group in hard classes, learn skills such as working together, and become adjusted to college.
Possibly because it was so well received, the university decided to expand the program in 2010 under a new name, Freshman Mentoring. There were a few significant changes. The program was made mandatory for all incoming freshmen. This eliminated the idea of living with others in your envelope. It also detached the program from the Honors program; though some envelopes are still honors classes, the majority are not. The classes offered also changed from small classes primarily full of students from the Freshman Academy program to a mix of classes, often with many other students. The "mentoring" aspect was emphasized and broadened. I've heard that the mentoring has become a little bit more "forced" because of this change. I feel like in general students are neutral or negative about the program, which is a shame since its predecessor was so popular.
The Freshman Mentoring program has had a few minor changes since 2010, but in large part has remained the same. Though many Freshmen complain about it, it's likely that the program is at least somewhat useful overall. The concept has definitely been changed, but it came from a solid idea of quickly integrating incoming freshmen with the university and helping them to find their bearings.