First Year Initiative at VMI (FYI@VMI)

The principal goal of FYI@VMI is to facilitate academic success for new cadets while they meet the demands of military duties, cadet life, and especially the Ratline. Both nationally as well as here at VMI, we have seen that even the most accomplished high school graduates often do not have the information or skills necessary to succeed in college academics. 

FYI@VMI has been specifically designed to close the gap between high school and college. To launch this initiative two five-week courses were offered as a pilot in Fall 2012. The initial data were very encouraging and VMI has decided to continue the pilot for three more years. Therefore, new students at VMI will have the opportunity to apply for a seat in Academics 101 (AC 101) and AC 102. AC 101 will be offered the first five weeks of the fall semester and AC 102 will be offered the last five weeks. The designated learning outcomes for the two courses are as follows:

By successfully completing AC 101, new cadets will be able to:

  • define the term “protocol” within an academic setting and outline its principal components
  • set long- and short-term goals for academic success
  • manage time to balance academic, military, athletic, and personal duties efficiently
  • apply effective study skills including reading for comprehension, note-taking, test preparation, and organization of academic materials
  • access various Post resources such as Miller Academic Center, Preston Library, Career Services, and Cadet Counseling

By successfully completing AC 102, new cadets will be able to:

  • demonstrate application of skills and information acquired in AC 101
  • devise a study plan for their first comprehensive college exams
  • create an action plan to facilitate an academically successful spring semester
  • reflect on the connections between academic success and life-long learning
  • compete for a leadership position in the 2015-16 FYI@VMI Program

     Overview of AC Rats (Class of 2016)
  • Average HS GPA: 3.56
  • 44% in state, 56% out of state
  • 8 % female, 92% male
  • 17% NCAA, 83% non-NCAA
  • 12 Majors (BI, CE, CH, CS, EC, ECE, HI, IS, MC, ME, PS, PY)

          Overview of AC Rats (Class of 2017)

  • Average HS GPA: 3.57
  • 52% in state, 48% out of state
  • 14 % female, 86% male
  • 20% NCAA, 80% non-NCAA
  • 13 Majors (AM, BI, CE, CH, CS, EC, ECE, EN, HI, IS, ME, PS, PY)

As part of the assessment of these courses, first semester GPA, first year GPA, and retention rates of the AC Rats and their non-AC Brother Rats were compared. The analysis examined the performance of AC Rats who completed both courses, one course, and no courses. The results suggest that those AC Rats who completed both courses achieved at a higher level than all other groups. Additionally, these completers evenly represented Rats with weaker, middle, and stronger high school grades.  

Population

N

F12 Term GPA

F12 Cum GPA

Sp13 GPA

1st Yr Cum GPA

AC Grads (passed 101 and 102)

18

2.98

3.02

2.90

2.97

AC non-grads (passed 0 or 1 course)

30

2.45

2.53

2.55

2.66

Control group (applied but not enrolled in AC)

62

2.45

2.67

2.63

2.65

Non-AC Rats

378/353

2.52

2.63

2.58

2.67

 

Population

N

F12 Term GPA

F12 Cum GPA

Sp13 GPA

1st Yr Cum GPA

AC Grads (passed 101 and 102)

18

2.98

3.02

2.90

2.97

AC non-grads (passed 1 course)

12

2.45

2.62

2.70

2.90

AC non-grads (passed 0 courses)

18

2.45

2.48

2.45

2.52

Control group (applied but not enrolled in AC)

62

2.45

2.67

2.63

2.65

Non-AC Rats

378/353

2.52

2.63

2.58

2.67

Retention Rates - end of first year

 

AC Rats

96%

AC control group

83%

Non-AC Rats

86%

Additionally, here are some comments from the upperclassmen who served as AC Cadet Facilitators last year:

"This course provides the skills that normally take years to develop in college. They alleviate some of the stress concerning how to best contact and create a beneficial relationship with your teacher,   and how to properly manage your time. With the stress of the ratline heavy on a freshman’s mind, this course provides a relaxed environment to aid you in achieving success in all areas of cadet life."  

“I think that an incoming Rat should take and complete this course in order to construct a solid foundation early in their cadetship and gain valuable information and skills to thrive in the unique environment that is VMI from the instructors and upperclass Cadet Facilitators.”

“VMI will add many new challenges to your life. The environment is tough and demanding for even the most prepared students. In this course you will learn to manage your time and become efficient and effective with the time that you have.”

“There is a pretty big gap between college and high school, so this program helps bridge that and teach the strategies and skills needed to be successful. VMI is an especially difficult college, particularly as a Rat, and so this class is twice as useful, teaching both time management and giving students the ability to talk to and learn from upperclass cadets in a relaxed environment, giving them the ability to pass on a wealth of knowledge.”

NOTE: We have received some questions about the reported end of first semester and first year GPAs. Entering Rats and their parents might not be initially impressed with any GPA in the 2.6 etc. range. To put these data in context, since 2001 VMI has only had two Rat classes record first semester GPAs higher than a 2.5 and never a 2.6 so these data are noteworthy. Incoming Rats will need to recognize that the 4.0 scale they left in high school and the 4.0 scale they are entering at VMI are different. It will be necessary for incoming Rats to redefine "academic success" for themselves. The average GPA of the AC completers is very positive news for VMI!

The continuation of this pilot program will provide VMI with more data including longitudinal data to indicate any differences in academic achievement among the groups over time. It will also provide data to inform continuous improvement of the courses and opportunities for cadets to contribute to the first-year success of new cadets.

Because this is a pilot program, there will be three special rules for the Rats chosen to participate:

  1. Rats must enroll in and complete both courses
  2. There will be no option to withdraw
  3. Rats will not earn traditional academic credit for AC101/102

The benefits will include:

  • A jumpstart on your academic success
  • The opportunity to demonstrate your leadership potential
  • Release from mandatory Academic Saturday workshops for Fall 2014
  • The privilege to serve as an AC101/102 cadet facilitator in 2015

Only 50 Rats of the entering class of 494 will be selected to participate in the pilot program this year.  To apply, you must send an email to fyi@vmi.edu no later than August 1, 2014 to request consideration for selection to the AC101/102 courses.  The request must include:

  1. Your name and contact information (email address and phone number)
  2. A statement acknowledging that you agree to the rules listed above and confirming your commitment to complete both courses
  3. A personal statement (not to exceed 200 words) that discusses why you want to be a member of the Fall 2014 AC Rat Class and what you have to offer your AC Brother Rats

If you have any questions about these courses or the application process, please contact LTC Humphrey at fyi@vmi.edu.

 

 

Contact Us

  Lt. Col. Elaine Humphrey
Ph.D., M.A.Ed.
Director, Miller Academic Center

P:  (540) 464-7661
F:  (540) 464-7798
E:  humphreye@vmi.edu

202 Carroll Hall
Virginia Military Institute
Lexington, VA  24450