Students preview college life through FTCAP

June 18, 2009

This summer, approximately 1,000 first-year students who will begin their studies in the fall semester will get a preview of what college life will be like through the Penn State Berks First-Year Testing, Counseling, and Advising Program (FTCAP) from June 23–July 17.

"Berks FTCAP is a very important program,” said Danielle Richards, coordinator of the Division of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) at Penn State Berks. “Because of this program, our first-year students receive an excellent academic orientation to Penn State University as a whole and Penn State Berks, which provides them with a solid foundation for a successful college career. The success of this program is due to the individual and departmental efforts that go into making our new students feel welcomed and valued as important members of our academic community.”

During this series of day-long programs held throughout the summer, academic advisers in the Academic Advising Center, as well as faculty and staff members, help small groups of incoming first-year students evaluate their educational plans through a comprehensive program of testing and individualized academic advising.

The program provides students with an understanding of their academic abilities through the testing component, which is completed online prior to the student’s FTCAP visit. Testing determines the student’s appropriate starting levels in English, mathematics, and chemistry. During FTCAP, students learn how their academic preparation and abilities compare to those of other Penn State students.

Then students and their families are introduced to the wide range of academic degree programs available through Penn State, both at Berks and other campus locations. Each student has an individual meeting with an academic adviser to discuss his or her educational plans. Experienced faculty and professional advisers assist students with course selection and scheduling.

While some students know what they want to study prior to FTCAP, many others are undecided. Meeting with an adviser helps these students to recognize all the options available to them through Penn State.

In addition to learning about academic programs, students learn about the college and its policies and procedures, buy their textbooks, get a photo ID, obtain a computer access account, tour the residence halls, and learn about life outside the classroom. Students also learn what to expect from their professors and what will be expected of them in the classroom.

There is a Student Services Fair that introduces them to Athletics, Campus Life, Career Services, Financial Aid, Housing and Food Services, Learning Communities, the Boscov-Lakin Information Commons at the Thun Library, Police Services, and a variety of other student services, including off-campus housing options.

While some of the activities are only for students, families are invited and encouraged to come to FTCAP with their student and attend the general sessions, as well as sessions presented specifically for families.

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Lisa Weidman

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Last Updated June 19, 2009