Office of the

First-Year Experience


In April 2000 Rensselaer challenged the First-Year Experience Task Force to “restructure student orientation programs to build strong affinity groups, including an outdoor adventure type experience that will commence before classes begin and continue into the first semester.” The First-Year Experience Task Force was charged with taking the aforementioned idea and transforming it into a comprehensive initiative for those who enroll as freshmen, transfer, and graduate students. In delivering the charge, Dr. Eddie Ade Knowles, Interim Vice President for Student Life, drew the committee’s attention to its broad implications: “We have an opportunity not only to improve the First-Year Experience for new students but also to stimulate thinking about how best to advance the overall quality of the student experience.” To these ends the Task Force was encouraged to:

  • Think outside of the box
  • Approach this task with a new sense of inquiry and creativity
  • Design a First Year Experience that will be treasured by our students and serve as a national model for others to emulate
  • Seek input from members of the Rensselaer community

In April of 2001 the Office of the First-Year Experience was born. The focus on student development includes nurturing excellence, building community, and a commitment to student success. Today, the student introduction to Rensselaer has been transformed, and it is called the First-Year Experience. This process begins prior to the students’ arrival on campus and extends throughout the first-year and well into the alumni years.

As of now the Office of the First-Year Experience has established and/or strengthed many resources for students and parents alike.

Rensselaer’s First-Year Experience Program Recognized Among the Best in the Country

The first-year experience at Rensselaer was named the Gold Medal award winner in the NASPA Awards of Excellence.