Freshman Connection

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What Does Freshman Connection Really Mean?

Find out the benefit to the Freshman Connection at UMD. We’ve all waited for that moment when you can check the decision a college has made about your child. It’s stressful, hopeful, terrifying. Finally, you get the email that you can check online and see what the future may or may not hold for them. If this is one of their top choice schools, like Maryland was for us, you are almost scared to look. I’ll never forget that moment.

I knew with complete certainty that my daughter was going to get in. Her GPA was high, her test scores even higher, she already had 21 credits from scores of 4 or 5 on AP exams. This is our state university! Of course, she’ll get in! So, we clicked. And there it was. You’re in! Oh, wait. You’re in for the spring semester. Wait. What? How is this even possible? Before I can say a word she’s got tears in her eyes. Which of course gives me tears in my eyes.

This moment, which was so awful when we were in it, turned out to be one of the best gifts we were given. At the University of Maryland, if you are admitted for spring, there are a few things you can do. You can attend community college for a semester, travel, or work and just begin college in the spring. Or, you can join the Freshman Connection program. If you find yourself in the same place we found ourselves last year, don’t despair. This program is the best.

Ok, back to that moment in time for us. We knew postponing school for a semester was not an option for various reasons, so we had two choices; start in the Freshman Connection program at her number one school, or choose her second option. We did some research, learned some basics, and decided to attend the University of Maryland is what we were going to do.

Still, this was very upsetting. My daughter felt embarrassed, disappointed, and frankly mad. She had worked so hard in high school and was already getting word of peers with lower numbers getting admitted for fall. It was all very confusing, and honestly still is. But we decided to control only what we could, which was learning as much as we could about the program and moving forward from there.

Our Advice

So, what’s our advice? Well, first be proud of your acceptance to the University of Maryland, and welcome to the Terp family!  Getting accepted is a huge accomplishment! Next, make sure you attend any and all information sessions that have to do with Freshman Connection. Start with admitted Students Day. This day is the same for all Terps but there are specific breakout sessions for students in Freshman Connection. You should definitely go! You will learn a lot, and walk out saying to yourself “wow, this seems hardly any different from the fall admitted students!”

One thing to note is that on this particular day it is very difficult to get an advising appointment.  My daughter and I tried and tried to schedule one, and when we finally did, we were going to have to sit there for two hours before our meeting. I was stressed. She was not. I thought we should just stay on campus, we were already there after all, and talk to an advisor. She said she was comfortable with a phone advising meeting later on. I’m here to tell you, you don’t need to wait. She was right, and when she did have her phone advising appointment weeks, later it was extremely helpful and she had all her questions answered.

So, what are the differences between Fall admitted students and Freshman Connection students? There aren’t many, but it is important to know what they are: Freshman Connection students cannot participate in NCAA Division I athletics, so if you are being recruited for a sport, it would be a deal-breaker.  Club and intramural sports are fine.

Your course times are different. They start no earlier than 3 pm and end by 9 pm. We thought this was going to be a big deal, but it was actually great. During the day when other students were in class, my daughter had the dorm room to herself, the gym was less busy, and she could get a lot of work done. Many students choose to get a job because the majority of students cannot work during the day. Before we understood, we thought “everyone would know” that she was going to class in the evening. This just was not the case.  First of all, no one cares. I really mean that. No. One. Cares. Second, many classes are in the evening, not just Freshman Connection classes. Class time ended up not mattering. Not one bit.

You are only in class with other students in the Freshman Connection program. This also doesn’t matter. They are just other members of your graduating class.

All-Freshman Connection students must take the one-credit course UNIV100, an introduction to life at Maryland. Many other students must take this as well, but all Freshman Connection students are required. Finally, after the fall semester, Freshman Connection students have the last slot for registration for spring. This was also not a problem as there are so many classes your Terp will need they will easily be able to design a productive spring schedule. Your first choice courses may be full, but you will be able to find classes that fit.

There are huge benefits to this program as well.  What are they? Your classes are much smaller than traditional large university classes but they are taught by the same professors and count the same as any other class. There is no difference in the value, teaching, or credit of a class. The only difference is you have the benefit of smaller class sizes. The program allows you to start at the University with the Fall admitted students! This is the best part!

If you find yourself reading this, worried about what Freshman Connection would mean for your student, I’m here to tell you it’s one of the best things that ever happened. I was in your shoes, I was bummed, and then I realized how great it was. She lived in a dorm with non-Freshman Connection students, she participated in clubs and groups, she ate with classmates in the dining hall, she literally had the same first-semester experience as all the other Freshman! Stop worrying now, and celebrate your new Terp!

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2020-06-25T14:45:39-04:000 Comments

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