Steep decline of enrollment in FAMU’s First-Year Experience course

 Lawrence D. Brown, coordinator of FAMU’s First Year Experience and Dr. Brenda Spencer, Director of Academic Integration and Student Transitional Services.


Freshmen enrollment on Florida A&M University’s campus has increased. However, the enrollment for the university’s summer semester First-Year Experience class, also known as SLS 1101, has declined.

The low enrollment rates for the summer’s SLS 1101 class have resulted in the cancellation of half of the sections scheduled for the course.

“Originally, there were eight sections of the SLS classes offered (for the freshmen class this summer),” said Aleya Bradley, FAMU peer mentor and senior broadcast journalism student. “As of right now, the university has cut about four of the sections offered. Unfortunately, some sections had weak enrollments of five to six students, so those sections had to be removed.”

Low freshman enrollment rates have also led to the decline of peer mentor involvement over the summer.

“My peer mentor position has been affected, because half of the First Year Experience classes were cut this summer,” said Jade Jacobs, FAMU peer mentor and senior broadcast journalism student. “The class that I was originally assigned to was cut due to lack of enrollment. There aren’t any SLS classes available that agree with my schedule, which puts me in an unfortunate position.”

According to statistics provided by the FAMU Office of Institutional Research and the Office of Academic Affairs, the Fall 2018 enrollment is expected to increase by over 500 students. Jacobs hopes that the increase in first-year students will redirect the university’s attention to the importance of the First-Year Experience class.

“I think the First Year Experience classes should be looked at as a priority for freshmen students,” said Jacobs. “The class introduces first-year students to college life and builds the foundations they will need throughout the rest of their professional lives.”

Brenda Spencer, director of academic integration and student transitional services, believes that there are a number of reasons for the low enrollment in the course. “There are various explanations for the low enrollment of students (in the SLS 1101 course),” said Spencer. “Many first-year students do not have the course listed on their curriculums. Additionally, many freshmen take remedial classes during the summer which doesn’t leave them with enough credits to take the class. Unfortunately, many of these factors resulted in the cancellation of half of the classes offered for the course.”

“I remember a time when we offered over 15 sections of classes, because every freshman was required to take it (SLS 1101),” said Lawrence D. Brown, coordinator of FAMU’s First Year Experience. “However, we have seen a steep decline in summer enrollment since 2015. Now, we have hit rock bottom.”

According to Brown and Spencer, there hasn’t been any discussion of permanently removing the class from the university’s course catalog and the First-Year Experience coordinators are working hard to drive freshmen to the course in the future.

“We are currently brainstorming ways to get back on track,” said Spencer. “Moving forward we are going to make sure that our concerns are expressed to the administration so we can have a clear policy in place as it relates to the First-Year Experience course.”

To learn more about the First Year Experience course, contact the Undergraduate Student Success Center at 850-412-7994.