The Entering Student Program (ESP) is designed to assist the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) student population (fall 2014--80% Latino/a, 53% first generation college students, 97% commuters, 78% employed) with transitioning into the university environment. The program consists of academic components -- the University 1301 first-year seminar, learning communities, and peer leader program-- that are especially critical to the success of UTEP's first year students. Students establish connections with the university community, develop skills necessary for academic success, gain familiarity with campus resources, develop leadership and teamwork skills, access and apply information, and become independent learners.
The immediate and constant goal of the ESP is to increase the success and retention of first-year students. An additional goal is to help foster an important paradigm shift at UTEP from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning.
In fall 2014 alone, 2,134 students enrolled in University 1301 sections; 317 students enrolled in learning communities; 94 students trained and were employed as peer leaders; approximately 40 instructors attended an ESP faculty development workshop.
The average one-year GPA for students enrolled in University 1301 (2003-13) is 2.74 compared to 2.66 for students who never enrolled in University 1301 (GPA for both categories adjusted to exclude University 1301 grade). The average one-year retention for students who took University 1301 (2003-13) is 71% compared with 48% for students who never enrolled in University 1301.