UNCW Named One of the Best Colleges with Great First-Year Experiences

Monday, May 20, 2019

The University of North Carolina Wilmington’s first-year experience program has been included on the U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 list of Colleges with Great First-Year Experiences. UNCW was one of only eight North Carolina institutions to make the list, and one of only three UNC System institutions. 
For this list, U.S. News asked college presidents, chief academic officers, deans of students and deans of admissions from more than 1,500 schools to nominate up to 15 institutions with exemplary programming geared toward the first-year experience. Colleges and universities receiving seven or more mentions were chosen for inclusion on the list. 
Student access to crucial support mechanisms like UNCW’s first-year learning communities and first-year seminar eases the transition from high school to college and exposes them to a variety of potential degree paths and a host of enthusiastic mentors and gives them a sense of the university’s united community.
"A first-year experience that succeeds not only in retaining students for a second year, but also sets them up for long-term success by connecting them in powerful ways to faculty, to undergraduate research, and to applied learning, is a lifetime game-changer,” said Paul Townend, associate vice chancellor and dean of undergraduate studies. "We see the results in our historically strong retention numbers, and also in the lives of our students long after graduation." 
UNCW’s academic affairs and student affairs divisions work together tirelessly to meet and exceed every goal for student success. Recognitions like this one are a testament to the effectiveness of that collaboration. 
"As a university, we pride ourselves on providing an exceptional student-centered experience,” said Patricia Leonard, vice chancellor of student affairs. “From admission to orientation to the final day of exams and as they transition to their second year, we work hard to provide all manners of support, a collegial and safe environment, and countless options to help our students adapt to their new home away from home. This honor goes to the very heart of that mission." 
UNCW’s first-year experience offerings work to ensure student success by increasing retention and graduation rates, a key priority of the university’s Strategic  Plan. The university earned other impressive recognitions from U.S. News for 2019, ranking 8th in the nation among “2019 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs,” 6th among public universities and 15th overall on a list of “Best Regional Universities in the South”; 5th most innovative public university in the South; and 9th in the region among “ Best Colleges for Veterans.”  
In addition to the U.S. News rankings, UNCW was named a Best Southeastern School by The Princeton Review and was one of only four UNC System schools featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2019, a publication that highlights the nation’s “best and most interesting” colleges and universities. 
-- Christina Schechtman