First Year Experience
We believe that it is crucial that we support students throughout their first year. Yet, to achieve success, first years need to play an active role in their development, and access the support available. Many students are afraid to ask for help, seeing it as a sign of weakness, but we believe that it is a natural part of the first-year experience.
UCT's First Year Experience (FYE) is not a service or a centre; rather, it is a shared value system that prioritises the all-round wellbeing of first years. It's a collective effort that aims to give first-year students a sense of belonging, helps them adapt to the university, and offers academic and emotional support. We'd like students to see the entire first year as an opportunity to develop the skills they will need throughout their time at university. These values underpin the following programmes.
- Help during Orientation
FYE is firmly aligned with the Orientation programme, spearheading the help desk and 'tech buddy' service. The help desk initiative sees UCT Orientation Leaders staffing temporary help desks at various points on campus. These senior students are there to help with queries on services and directions, and will refer students to the relevant support service.
The help desks will be active during Orientation, and during the first week of term, to help first-year students find their way on campus. Our tech buddies provide digital literacy assistance in undergraduate labs. These senior students 'roam' the labs offering 'on-the-spot' help with our online learning platform VULA, our online admin system, PeopleSoft, student email accounts, and using Microsoft Word.
- Early Assessment
Early Assessment (EA) allows faculties to monitor students' academic progress. EA is based on the grades students receive from mid-semester tests and assignments. It acts as a prompt for first-year students to engage with their faculty before their final marks for a particular programme. EA signals whether students should visit the student advisors in their faculty. These advisors will then offer tailored support through consultation, and they will advise students about the specific support services needed.
- FYE Talks and Workshops
In line with our ethos of proactive support we encourage first years to attend workshops that provide both academic and non-academic support. The workshops cover topics including writing skills, stress and financial management, and exam preparation, amongst others. Once registered, students will be able to refer to the online learning system, Vula, for more information about these workshops, and to access further electronic resources.
See the downloads section for a message to parents on the key services first-year students may need (Parents' Pamphlet) and for information on the FYE Vula Sites see the Student Info Sheets.