After the success of “the first six,” a program where first-years were required to attend events during the first few weeks of school, the Office of the First Year Experience wanted to ensure students had an even more informative and overall better experience.
To accomplish this goal, the OFYE created a new program called bLUeprint. Started in 2013, the bLUeprint program includes the 5×10 first-year experience.
“Research shows that students who are active and engaged in the first ten weeks of their college experience are more likely to have a smoother transition,” Kara Gensamer, the assistant director of first-year experience & orientation, wrote in an email.
Gensamer said the office came up with five foundations it believes students need to have a successful college career. The 5×10 programs were created to highlight these foundations outside of the bLUeprint workbook given to first years.
The five foundations are creative curiosity, identity development, collaborative connections, inclusive leadership, and professional growth and success.
First years are required to go to at least five of the available programs over the course of the first 10 weeks of school, which is how the program received its name, 5x10s. Students can choose from any of the five foundations, but they have to go to at least three different kinds.
“It encourages students to attend lectures, performances, events and sessions that are happening on a daily basis,” Gensamer wrote.
Gensamer said the goal of the program is for first-year students to feel they have obtained more experiences at Lehigh, to become a part of the community and started developing good college habits.
“The adjustment (to college) can be hard,” Hunter Kennan, ’20, said. “The events can make you be more social and meet people at Lehigh.”
Keenan also said the events can help students make good choices and feel connected to the Lehigh community. He attended Lehigh’s Got Talent, where he was able to see all the musical talent at Lehigh and socialize with others. Kennan said for those interested in music, it would be beneficial for them to see the different opportunities they could join.
Even though Jessica Flores, ’20, found the events she went to interesting, she said she does not see the point of having it be required, as she is already involved in clubs on campus.
“I do understand that it’s supposed to be beneficial so it is nice for students who are not already involved,” Flores said. “I also think there should not be a requirement to go to different foundations because someone may like one more than the others.”
Keenan said the “Don’t Blame It on the Alcohol” event presented information that was important for students to know, but the person running it made it interesting by sharing multiple scenarios, which made it refreshing.
“I was expecting it to be the normal speech about stuff,” Keenan said. “I kind of wasn’t looking forward to it because I don’t always like how they present those (topics), but the guy who talked about it was amazing.”
There is a spreadsheet of all the programs online. Gensamer wrote they wanted to improve the calendar from the previous year so it would be more clear for students. One way the office accomplished this goal was by listing the events coming up in two week increments instead of listing all the programs by month.
Although the programs are required, Gensamer wrote she received positive feedback from attendees.
“Some of the feedback we hear from students who attend the 5×10 symposium relates to wanting to take a class with that professor or their desire to pick up a new minor based on the topic of the session,” Gensamer wrote.
Gensamer said the most popular 5×10 was led by professors during first-year orientation where they shared their knowledge with students.
The programs benefit first-years by having them experience some social and academic resources while at the same time meeting different kinds of people who host the events, Gensamer wrote. This can include staff, faculty, or students.
Shaelyn Heft, ‘20, said she enjoyed the creative curiosity events because they were a good stress reliever after a long day. These events include movies, Garba or talent shows. She said she wishes first-year students didn’t have to go to so many 5×10 events because schedules can get packed when the school year begins.
The last day for first years to complete the requirements is Nov. 4. If the five programs are not completed in time, students will have a delay on their registration for spring classes.