Fringe Benefits for First-year Interest Groups

                                                                By Lindsey Reemsnyder

First-Year Interest Groups are highly recommended to incoming freshman by their advisors during summer orientation, particularly in the College of Natural Sciences.  Students learn that involvement in a “FIG” will enable them to form new friendships and provide an immediate network of people to study with.  These groups also expose students to time management strategies, campus involvement opportunities, potential for study abroad and more. 
After interviewing multiple sophomores in the College of Natural Sciences, only positive remarks were expressed on the topic of FIGs.  Biology major Mary Wissinger said of her FIG, the Future of Biology, “Joining one is really great for finding the best professors and meeting a lot of people who share your interests.  I met some of my best friends in my FIG last year, but it is also just nice to have a group of people to study with.”  Kira Lowery added, “It’s definitely how I met a lot of people.  I think every freshman should join a FIG to help them adapt to college life freshman year.”

However, no one spoke as highly of the FIG program as Michael Gonzales. He entered UT as biology major but now pursues a degree in Music from the College of Liberal Arts. “My FIG has made a huge impact in my college career.  Besides Camp Texas, it has been the most influential group I’ve been involved with.  I can honestly say I have made friendships that will last my lifetime. I am not currently in the [College] of Natural Sciences, but I still attend the meetings and hang out with everyone. They say that your first year of college is the hardest and the most important, and I agree 100 percent. I cannot imagine going through it without my FIG. The study groups and hangout sessions we had were some of the best moments I’ve experienced at UT.”  He continued, “There were a ton of discussions of topic but there were plenty of times were we got to work and things done.  We definitely created an amazing learning environment. I have heard from a few people that their FIG didn’t work out, and they were surprised that ours is still going strong into our sophomore year. I cannot explain it, but  we just clicked and became a small tight knit family.  I feel blessed to have these people in my life. There is another benefit from attending all those meetings, so many presentations from different organizations around campus.  I would have never heard about half of them if I had not been at those meetings.  I strongly advise any incoming freshman to join a FIG.”

After talking to sophomores around the College of Natural Sciences it is understandable why advisors stressed the importance of applying for these First-Year Interest Groups.  Many College of Natural Sciences students hold this program in high regard and continue to share all the benefits FIGs have to offer and grow from that experience.

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