While Douglas County’s public school students start school on Monday, 350 incoming freshmen at the University of Nevada, Reno, will be starting a five-day boot camp on Sunday.
New students will be studying, taking classes, exams and attending lectures from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. for a week before classes begin at the university on Aug. 25. That is also the first day of school at Western Nevada College.
The boot camp, an intensive academic preparation program named NevadaFIT, offers a glimpse into the University’s rigorous academic expectations and college life. The optional program, which may sound grueling, is actually designed to help students more easily make the transition and prepare for success.
“Academic boot camps dramatically increase academic performance and student success rates,” Kevin Carman, provost and executive vice president said. “It’s exciting to see students recognize and embrace the hard work needed to be successful. Students who go through boot camp are twice as likely to graduate in their major. We give them tools for success.”
NevadaFIT includes eight separate boot camps spanning the breadth of the University, from atmospheric sciences to veterinary science, from engineering to neuroscience, from biotechnology to journalism. They all use the same basic program concept, although customized for each college. The program was expanded on campus this year after the success of BioFIT, which was conducted for incoming biology majors last year.
“We wanted to allow some latitude this year for the colleges to adapt the program to meet their needs,” Carman said. “Each will have their camp anchored on a course, such as Engineering 101 for the College of Engineering. It may not be 101 for other camps, such as for journalism or business or health sciences. The main goal is to help build student success.”
“This is the first boot camp I know of that has evolved past biology,” he said. “There are a number of biology focused programs around the country, like our BioFIT last year – it will be interesting to see how well it translates to other disciplines.”
NevadaFIT, where FIT stands for freshman intensive transition, is not a remedial program meant for students to catch up to college level. The program is open to all students, and is designed to mimic the demographics of the incoming freshman class.
A typical day of the five-day program starts with a 7:30 a.m. breakfast, then a chemistry or biology lecture followed by a lab class, lunch, a study session and an exam. After a writing study session, the students have dinner, another lecture and exam discussion. Throughout their busy schedule, the students also attend learning sessions to help them understand note taking and learning styles, how to deal with stress and test anxiety as well as academic integrity and decision making.
The program begins with a welcome barbecue lunch at the Joe Crowley Student Union and ends with a barbeque lunch celebration on the Quad on the final day, Thursday.