UMW TRIO program offers guidance for new students

Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Flight plan

Four helicopters, flying low and landing near Dillon, created speculation last Wednesday as to what exactly was going on. According to Montana Youth Challenge Academy Director Trent Gibson, the MYCA Educator Airlift was designed for Montana Educators, counselors and administrators as an opportunity to observe the MYCA program and foster a stronger relationship with those high schools across the state that place students with the program on the campus of the University of Montana Western. While the educators were engaging with the MYCA, select cadets and members of the UMW staff loaded onto the helicopters -- two Chinooks and two Black Hawks -- and were given orientation flights. J.P. Plutt photo

TRIO Student Support Services kicked off the beginning of the 2021 fall semester with programs designed to help new students be successful in their transition to college.

TRIO programs are federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for eligible students. Students qualify for the TRIO program if they are first-generation college students, have a disability, or fall below a certain income level. TRIO helps students overcome economic, social, and academic boundaries to higher education by assisting with basic college requirements and providing students with needed support. The program aims to increase college retention and graduation and currently serves around 160 UMW students each year.

To start the year, TRIO welcomed incoming new students to the third annual Accelerator Program. The Accelerator Program allows new TRIO students to move in two days earlier than most freshmen, giving these students the chance to learn about the expectations of the TRIO program. It also allowed students to meet their TRIO advisors, mentors, pick up their books and locate their classrooms before the first day of classes.

“During my time at the accelerator program, I was able to settle into the dorms before orientation and get familiar with our campus. It was also nice to learn that I will always have someone in my corner to help,” said freshman TRIO student Lakota Becker.

The programs and activities new TRIO students participate in are designed to help alleviate any anxiety they may be feeling.

“I was very happy that I decided to participate in the Accelerator Program,” said freshman Brooklyn Suden. “This program helped show me what I needed to know before I knew it. Thanks to the Accelerator Program, I was less stressed and more excited to start college.”

One of the workshops during the Accelerator Program featured a faculty Q&A session where students had the opportunity to ask a panel of Montana Western professors any questions they had about taking a college course. This was a great opportunity for students to connect with some of the UMW faculty and learn about the expectations professors have for students during a block course.

New TRIO students also participate in First Year Experience (FYE) classes throughout the fall semester. FYE classes are designed to help TRIO freshmen transition to Montana Western and gain the skills and knowledge it takes to be successful throughout their college careers. FYE participants attend one class per week with guest speakers and TRIO staff presenting on a range of topics including resume writing, degree tracking, financial literacy, interview skills and graduate school.

The Montana Western TRIO Student Support Services grant was recently renewed for another five years of funding, ensuring that the program will continue to serve UMW students.

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