NSights Blog

1,700 participants slated to attend NevadaFIT 2018

NevadaFIT's impact on student retention, success to continue, Aug. 18-23

It's another record-setting attendance for NevadaFIT as the program prepares for over 1,700 freshmen and 300 upperclassmen mentors to arrive to campus a week before school starts. NevadaFIT 2018 kicks off on Saturday, Aug. 18 with a move-in as large as the regular campus move-in, and a ceremony at Lawlor Events Center beginning at 6 p.m. for students and their families.

‘FIT' stands for ‘freshman intensive transition,' with the goal of making the transition from high school to college as seamless as possible. NevadaFIT participants willingly partake in an academic bootcamp in order to increase their success in college under the guidance of mentors who serve as academic and social role models. Student success is exactly what this program produces.

Even as NevadaFIT grows each year (its founding year in 2013 had just 48 biology participants), retention and GPA continue to be higher relative to students who do not participate in the program. In 2016 alone, the percentage of students who were retained from one fall semester to the next was 8% higher. First semester GPAs were .34 higher for students who participated in NevadaFIT. Data from the 2017 class is still being collected, but retention from fall 2017 to spring 2018 was already 7% higher for NevadaFIT participants. It's hard to imagine that a week-long program could produce such startling results, but as the name suggests, the intensive nature of these bootcamps helps students thrive in their classes.

There's no doubt about it, no matter what kind of student you were in high school, college academics are very different from high school. The style, the pacing, the rigor of a college class can make even a top scholar stumble in their first semesters, often leading to diminished confidence or even a rash change in major. NevadaFIT feels much like a semester crammed into a single week. Students are on campus from about 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day, attending lectures, studying in groups of six called "packs," doing homework, taking exams, and receiving the kind of feedback on their work normally reserved for a midterms or finals week, often when it is already too late to make up for a bad grade. Students earn one-credit just for participating, and by the end of the week, have accomplished something and can comfortably transition into their first year of college, knowing what to expect and how to do their best.

NevadaFIT is going into its sixth year, and is becoming a significant part of the University experience. Sarah Smith, a junior Political Science and International Affairs major attended NevadaFIT as a participant in 2016, was a mentor in 2017, and is returning as a mentor for NevadaFIT 2018. She will be the 2018 featured student speaker at the Kick-off Ceremony. Sarah describes her experience in NevadaFIT as overwhelming but incredibly helpful: "I participated in PsychFIT, which has now evolved into LiberalArtsFIT. Before leaving for NevadaFIT I was so incredibly nervous. I was nervous about leaving my family, my small town, and my best friends. My best friends both went to the same college together in California and I wasn't sure how I was going to live without them. The only person I knew coming into campus was my twin sister, who was equally as nervous as I was. However, once NevadaFIT started, I didn't have time to be nervous. I was so overwhelmed and so busy the entire week, but that busy week led me to be able to be ready and to feel prepared to take on my classes."

Sarah suggests that it may not be the students who have the hardest transition at the start of NevadaFIT, but the parents. She says: "My parents sent not one, but two away at the same time! My dad was so ready for us to be out of the house, but my mom ... she was kind of a mess. I was so busy the entire week, I didn't even have time to call. And parents, your students are not going to have time to call. It's not because they don't love you or that they don't miss you, it's because every day we will be keeping them busy with classes, and lectures, and homework, and activities."

All eight colleges on campus run their own version of NevadaFIT, and students participate in a camp that aligns with their major. Three colleges require the program for all students: the College of Science, the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, and, new this year, the College of Education. All students with declared majors in these colleges were automatically enrolled in NevadaFIT. Students in other colleges applied and were accepted first come, first serve. Other colleges are considering requiring NevadaFIT next year, and Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Carman hopes that one day this program can be mandatory for all freshmen. Until then, the program serves a record number of students with ever-increasing resources. This weekend's NevadaFIT kick-off should be quite a sight to behold. Students will check-in with their camps prior to the ceremony, receive a t-shirt in their college's color, and march to Lawlor with their bootcamp creating a sea of colors on the arena floor. Here is a quick look at the schedule below.

Saturday, Aug. 18
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.: Student Move-in
4 p.m.: Camp Check-in, Various Locations
6 p.m.: Kick-off Ceremony, Lawlor Events Center
7 p.m.: Student BBQ, Knowledge Center Lawn
7 p.m.: Parent Info Session, Lawlor Events Center

Aug. 19-22
Full NevadaFIT days

Thursday, Aug. 23
Closing day, half day

For more information: www.unr.edu/nevadafit

Felicia DeWald head shot