New Warrior VIP program helps incoming freshmen engage early and visualize success
November 13, 2017
As part of Wayne State University’s ongoing commitment to ensuring student success, the university has introduced the Warrior Vision and Impact Program (Warrior VIP), a comprehensive student support program and learning community designed to help incoming freshmen successfully transition into college, excel as students and graduate on time.
Warrior VIP — launched as a collaborative effort led by the Academic Success Center and the Office of the Provost — encourages students to establish strong ties to WSU before starting classes through a series of pre-college workshops and events during their senior year of high school. That same personalized support is continued and adapted to their unique interests and needs as they begin their freshman year and progress toward graduation.
“Underrepresented students — and all of our students — are VIPs, and we want to make sure they identify and achieve their vision of academic success and graduate,” said Michelle Bruner, director of the Academic Success Center. “Warrior VIP works to maximize the impact that everyone at WSU can have on that vision.”
After being admitted to WSU, Warrior VIP’s inaugural Vision Class of 2021 was invited to join the program based on a variety of factors, including leadership shown in high school and first-generation status.
Warrior VIP’s pre-college component includes a series of four workshops designed to help students build relationships with faculty, staff and peers while developing key skills for college success, including time management, study and test-taking tactics, financial literacy, diversity, and leadership and networking. The workshops, which are hosted prior to first-year orientation, include a panel of current WSU students and faculty who are prepared to answer questions about their experiences. These workshops allow students to end their senior year on a strong note and begin their college career more prepared and confident.
“We want students to feel welcomed and at home on campus,” said Kenya Swanson, Warrior VIP program coordinator. “If they feel pride in being a Warrior and know that everyone here is in their corner, the goal is that they’ll also be able to clearly visualize their success and hold themselves more accountable.”
As part of their freshman year experience at WSU, most students of the Vision Class of 2021 are completing First-Year Seminar 1010, a class that supports their academic and personal development through discussions, writings and other activities. True to its mission of helping students visualize and achieve success, Warrior VIP also partners with many offices, departments, learning communities and organizations across campus to maximize students’ access to resources, academic support and engagement opportunities.
“Warrior VIP wouldn’t be possible without these partnerships,” said Bruner. “Each group has a unique and valuable expertise to offer students. By working together, we’re able to create a seamless experience.”
Partners include the Office of Multicultural Student Engagement, the Office of Student Financial Aid, the Dean of Students Office, Career Services, the Office of Economic Development, the university’s many learning communities and more.
“We all work to connect students with whatever they’re interested in,” Bruner said. “Supports such as undergraduate research and career planning are available through VIP and, as a VIP partner, the more specific, interest-based learning communities can focus their energies on supporting the student experience in other ways. We’re not duplicating efforts and, ultimately, we’re providing students with a customized and coordinated support system.”
In addition to being matched with an academic advisor in their respective department, students in the Warrior VIP cohort are also connected with an upperclassman who serves as a peer mentor.
“There’s incredible value in connecting our newest students with mentors on campus,” Swanson said. “It’s important that they know everyone at some point has been exactly where they’re at now. It makes asking questions and seeking support easier.”
To ensure the Vision Class of 2021 is on track for success, the Warrior VIP maintains contact through regular events, communication and individual meetings.
“Once Wayne State admits a student, we are committed to fostering a meaningful relationship with them and providing the support they need,” said Bruner. “It’s important that, throughout their time here, everyone on campus works together to ensure their success.”