First Year Experience

Academic Level
Issue Area
Key Personnel
Program Focus
First Year Support


First Year Experience (FYE) is a one-year program that provides an innovative approach to traditional course offerings by linking courses together through thematic content, by developing skills, and by combining instructional methods. The three important objectives of the Program are to develop essential academic skills, ease the transition and adjustment of new students to the college environment, and provide a comprehensive orientation to campus resources and facilities. FYE helps Latino students achieve academic success by offering transferable linked courses, coordinated assignments, exams and various class activities that foster a successful first year. By participating in a cohort environment, students work closely with their faculty and the First Year Experience counselor to develop an academic schedule that will prepare them to transfer in a timely manner. Students in the program develop lasting friendships and receive targeted academic counseling, supplemental instruction, and early registration (primarily for the linked classes. The program first launched in spring of 2001 with a pilot of 50 students and a Title V grant from the Department of Education. The program now serves 420 first-time freshman students per year and continues to counsel previous cohorts until graduation and or transfer. FYE works with 20 faculty instructors, and offers 19 linked learning community courses throughout the academic year.

Program Description

The mission of the First Year Experience program (FYE) is to develop a comprehensive program linking services, courses, interpersonal experiences, and a collegial environment that will provide all first year Latino students with the best opportunities to succeed in the pursuit of their educational and career goals.


An independent researcher found that student persistence and pass rates for First Year Experience (FYE) program participants were 10% to 30% higher than the general student population at El Camino College. The data also showed that FYE students' progression through an English course sequence outperformed their comparison group at every level, including developmental classes. The fall 2005 cohort included 420 students, 75% of which are Latino. Their median household income is between $20,000 and $24,000, and their median age is 18. To date, FYE has served 1,120 students since its inception in 2001. The program currently serves over 2,000 students and oversees the South Bay Promise Program.