The first year experience is not just about partying, drinking and freedom from parents. A programme designed to help first year students adjust to university life has reported success and will extend its marketing to its target audience.

The programme, First Year Experience (FYE), includes mentoring, skill workshops and counselling.

“It should be compulsory,” says Tshidiso Ramogale, a 2nd year LLB student. He says the programme was successful in helping him in first year and he would “recommend it to anyone”. He has since become an ambassador for the programme.

A Higher Education SA (HESA) study released in 2009 reported up to 35 per cent of South African students dropped out in their first year.

Research indicates first years who participate in FYE find it helps them adjust to both the academic and social aspects of the university, says Scott.

“Noting the number of first year students who get academically excluded, the marketing strategy in terms of making students aware of the programme isn’t that effective,” says Godfrey Maja, a 3rd year LLB student.

“You always see posters in random places around campus, but mostly in CCDU,” says 3rd year media studies student, Sne Zungu.

Ramogale says some of the marketing problems they have had is due to the programme being relatively new and they are working on improving marketing this year.

“I left the programme early,” says Zungu. “Maybe it would have helped if I had gone regularly but I gave up on it because it personally didn’t help me,” she says.

Courses are offered in maths, chemistry and accounting, subjects first year students find difficult coping with at a university level, says Scott. Computer and general writing courses are also offered in order to help students cope with the difference between school and higher education.

Scott says there will be a FYE induction on February 18 in the Great Hall. Students can register any time of the year at the Student Development and Leadership Unit or Counselling and Careers Development Unit offices.