Freshman Interest Group
What is the Freshman Interest Group program?The Freshman Interest Group (FIG) is a program designed to bring what is learned in the classroom to life. Ten different academic themes offer students the opportunity of living in a close-knit community with peers who have similar academic interests and are taking core classes together. The FIG program intentionally creates a learning environment that recognizes how some of the most powerful learning in college takes place outside the classroom. Seminars and study groups taking place in the residential community, faculty members being present in the village, and specially trained peer advisors help integrate the academic and social experience of our students. By being a member of the FIG, students make a year-long commitment to the academic program and the residential living community.
Mission of the Freshman Interest GroupSonoma State University's Freshman Interest Group program provides small thematic living/learning communities to enhance the academic experience during the freshman year. We promote intellectual pursuits, personal responsibility, civic engagement, and positive intentional relationships with faculty and peers.
What are the goals of the Freshman Interest Groups?The program identifies five main goals based on national research the supports student retention and satisfaction, and which addresses the social and academic transition challenges most freshmen face. These goals are:
- Improve the academic success of first-year students.
- Increase retention from freshman to sophomore year.
- Increase student satisfaction with Sonoma State University.
- Provide assistance for students to take an active role in their successful academic and personal transition to college.
- Create opportunities that will foster residential, learning-based peer network.
- Increase student and faculty interaction outside of the classroom.
- Integrate civic engagement into the curriculum.
Learning OutcomesAs a result of participating in the FIG program for their entire first year students will:
- Benefit from mentoring relationships with peers and faculty inside and outside of the classroom
- Successfully self-monitor schoolwork to meet deadlines and academic expectations
- Develop responsible decision-making skills
- Recognize the values of life-long civic engagement
- Become a respectful, contributing member to the residential and campus community
- Gain initial knowledge of issues, methods, and careers in the students' potential field of study
- Demonstrate study skills strategies for above-average academic achievement
- Matriculate to their sophomore year at SSU
What Does An Ideal FIG Student Look Like?
- Has a strong academic background and wants to get a jump-start on their academics at SSU.
- Is prepared to take responsibility for her/his academic future.
- Has the academic ability, commitment and drive to be a positive, active member of our college community. Academic ability is not enough by itself.
- Will use the tools that we provide to make the most of her/his college experience at SSU.
- Is willing to be a positive, active participant in the residential community.
Who participates in this program?Since the creation of the FIG program in 2000, we have earned overwhelming campus-wide support. This program is designed for students who have chosen a major and are interested in jumping right in, as well as those who have an interest area supported by the FIG, and want to sample the academic field before declaring it as their major. Because the majority of the courses also fulfill general education requirements, participating in the FIG does not hinder students who change majors later. Other reasons students participate in FIG are because they desire to:
- Live with other freshmen that have similar academic interests
- Satisfy general education requirements while engaging in an in-depth exploration of major and or possible career choices.
- Participate in seminars, study groups, field trips, social gatherings specially designed for FIG students.
Annual TraditionsConnections and community begin with the Welcome Reception which happens before classes even begin. That is the first opportunity for the FIG students to interact with one another and to meet their faculty and Peer Advisors.
During the FIG Fall Feast, in November, students get to work with their fellow FIG members to contribute various food dishes to this down home program-wide feast.
For those FIG students who earn a 3.5 grade point average their first semester, they are invited to an Awards Banquet the beginning of the spring semester to honor their accomplishments and the faculty and staff who helped along the way.
Unique Features of the FIG
Links With Core CurriculumEach FIG group has an academic block consisting of 2-3 core classes that every student is enrolled in together. These classes relate to the theme of the FIG and often fulfill requirements of the major with the discipline. The classes are integrated into the programs and activities offered in the residential community. Therefore, students can apply what they are learning in one class to all the FIG classes and what they are engaging in outside of the classroom.
Civic Engagement ProjectsWe know the value of learning through doing and strive to teach our students about the Sonoma State and surrounding community through direct engagement. A variety of service-learning and civic engagement projects are woven into the curriculum to give students direct experience in their field of interest, contribute to our local community, and build pride in what FIG students can accomplish.
UNIV 102: First Year Experience as a CornerstoneAcademically thematic FIG freshman seminars have become the cornerstone for the FIG theme by providing a base from which integration and collaboration among the courses linked to each theme stem. This nationally recognized transition course has given assistance to thousands of freshmen over the last 15 years.
Student Taught Spring Semester CourseDuring the Spring semester FIG students take a one unit course taught by a Peer Advisor. The purpose of the seminar is to further enhance the freshman experience by broadening student views of the professions within their FIG interest, in addition to helping with the academic and personal transition to college. Course objectives include encouraging the exploration of personal interests within various professions, improving academic success, and maintaining supportive residential learning-based peer networks for all students.
Strengthening Academic PerformanceFIG participants benefit from increased attention to academic skills development as repeatedly shown in GPA and retention rate comparisons with the general freshmen class. Each semester approximately 55% of the FIG participants earn a 3.0 GPA or above, with over 25% earning above a 3.5 GPA.
How many spaces are available in the FIG Program?Due to the high value we place on a low faculty to student ratio, each FIG cohort is capped at 25 students. There is no additional fee to participate in the program, even though there are many additional benefits provided by both the Residential Life Office and the academic departments. All of the FIG themes have an English placement requirement. Additionally, the Pre-Health FIG and Engineering, Math and Science FIG have a math placement requirement, which are listed below. Because there is the living component, students must live on-campus in the FIG village their entire freshman year. Failure to maintain enrollment in all FIG courses will result in a forfeit of the FIG contract and students will be required to move to a different village, space permitting. Requesting housing information and submitting a license agreement early is recommended due to limited space availability in the residential community.
IntroductionThroughout the history of our living-learning programs, experience has shown us that students whose parents/guardians sign them up for the programs or whose parents/guardians demand participation in the programs are less successful due to the lack of understanding and buy-in to the program. We strongly encourage each student and their guardian to examine and discuss the various programs together as an excellent option for your first year at Sonoma State University.
FIG 1. The CSU system has determined that all students must receive one of the following scores to be placed into college level English (English 101):
- A score of at least 500 on the critical reading portion of the SAT
- A score of at least 22 on the ACT
- A score of at least 147 on the English Placement Test (EPT)
- An EAP Exemption for English
- Or a score of 3 or higher on the Advanced Placement English Literature or Language Exam
- One of the three linked courses for all nine FIG cohorts is English 101. Therefore, it is required that each applicant meets the above CSU guidelines.
FIG 2. Important Information for students interested in the Engineering, Math & Science FIGThe CSU system has determined that all students must receive one of the following scores to be placed into college level Math (Math 100 or above):
- A score of at least 550 on the math portion of the SAT
- A score of at least 23 on the ACT
- A score of at least 50 on the Entry Level Math Exam (ELM)
- An EAP Exemption for Math
- Or a score of 3 or higher on any Advanced Placement Math Exam
- One of the three linked courses for the Engineering, Math & Science FIG is pre-calculus/calculus. Therefore, it is required that each applicant meets the above CSU guidelines.
FIG 3. Important information for students interested in the Pre-Health Professions FIGThe CSU system has determined that all students must receive one of the following scores to be placed into college level Math (Math 100 or above):
- A score of 550 on the math portion of the SAT
- A score of 23 on the ACT
- Or a score of 50 on the Entry Level Math Exam (ELM)
- One of the three linked courses for the Pre-Health Professions FIG is chemistry. Although there is no math requirement to take chemistry, students who do not meet the above requirements typically struggle with chemistry their first semester. Therefore, it is required that each applicant meets the above CSU guidelines.
FIG 4. Acceptance into the FIG program is on a rolling basisIf you are still waiting on scores, or to take the placement tests, please mail in the application, and indicate that information on the form. The FIG program fills quickly and because you cannot be accepted into the program until test scores are received, it is in your best interest to take your placement tests as soon as possible. Information on placement tests or registration for tests can be found at www.ets.org/csu.
FIG 5. Test ScoresIf you are still waiting on scores, or to take the placement tests, please indicate that on your Housing License Agreement. The FIG program fills quickly and because you cannot be accepted into the program until test scores are received, it is in your best interest to take your placement tests as soon as possible. Information on placement tests or registration for tests can be found at www.ets.org/csu.
Freshman Interest Groups available:
- Business and Economics
- Education, K-12
- Engineering, Math, & Science
- Global Issues/Global Careers
- Pre-Health Professions
Prospective students, who are interested in being a part of the FIG program should contact:
Freshman Interest Group Director
Residential Life Coordinator