NevadaFIT, the University of Nevada, Reno's premiere academic preparation program for incoming freshmen students, kicks off Saturday with an opening ceremony and parents' workshop. The program, which stands for "freshman intensive transition," gives freshmen a five-day crash course on the rigors of college academics. It spans all eight colleges and more than 40 majors across the University.
NevadaFIT began in 2013 as BioFIT, a program geared toward incoming biology majors, with 48 students participating. In 2014, the program was expanded to include 350 students in all eight colleges with varied majors. Each year the program has grown in attendance and this year it will welcome the largest NevadaFIT class to date with nearly 1,450 students, almost half of the incoming freshman class. The FIT programs include BizFIT (College of Business), E-FIT (College of Engineering), LiberalArtsFIT (College of Liberal Arts), FIT2Care (College of Education), HealthFIT (College of Health Science), J-FIT (Reynolds School of Journalism), CABNRFIT (College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources), and ScienceFIT (College of Science).
Much of this growth is attributed to the College of Science, the first college at the University to make the program mandatory for incoming students. This year, the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources has joined the College of Science in making the program mandatory for all students, and every major from every college can now participate.
Typically presented to students in the sciences, NevadaFIT, modeled after Louisiana State University's BIOS program, is the first known intensive introduction that has moved beyond the sciences in the country. Although, true to its origins, the program remains anchored in mathematics. Students in most disciplines will attend daily math classes that relate to their field of study. This stems from research that has shown students who are successful in math are more likely to graduate within their chosen majors.
"College is not an extension of high school; it's not grade 13," Kevin Carman, executive vice president and provost for the University, said. "Students learn the value of going to class, sitting up front, how to study with other students and how to make effective use of resources like the writing and math centers."
The program is open to all registered freshmen, regardless of grade-point average. Last year was the first year NevadaFIT counted as a course credit. Participants are grouped in "packs" of six students led by a peer mentor and many of these peer mentors have participated in past boot camps.
Nicole Foster, an elementary education major from Rocklin, California, attended NevadaFIT in 2015 in the FIT2Care program.
"I attended NevadaFIT as a participant because I am the oldest in my family so I was not quite sure what to expect in college," Foster said in an NSights Blog for the University. "When I heard about NevadaFIT, I thought it would be the perfect introduction into the college life and everything that comes with it. Before NevadaFIT, I was nervous about the classes, the people, and campus itself. However, afterward, I felt like I had better knowledge than other incoming freshmen who did not arrive until later in the week. I felt like I had a shoe in the door! The most surprising part of NevadaFIT was how much more confident I felt about college afterwards. Whether that was confidence in my performance in classes, or getting around campus, I felt like I could accomplish a lot within my first semester at the university. Furthermore, I met some of my best friends, and we still are friends two years later."
Course fees are used to pay student mentors. Funds were also raised to offer scholarships to students who might not otherwise be able to afford attending NevadaFIT.
"Thanks to the generosity of our donors, students who qualify have their full NevadaFIT attendance paid," Carman said. "We work hard to make sure any student who has financial need will be able to attend."
Every boot camp in last year's program saw higher GPAs in NevadaFIT participants, compared to the students in their major who did not participate.
During student move-in times, traffic around the University will be busier than usual. Motorists and pedestrians are reminded to obey traffic laws. More information about pedestrian and campus safety can be found at www.unr.edu/police.