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  Transition Program

First-Step Summer Transition Program

The First Step Program is designed to provide a comprehensive, two week, summer experience to assist students with learning differences in making a successful transition to postsecondary education. Participants in First Step are charged a fee that includes instruction, tutorials, room and board, course materials, orientation materials, and field trip fees and transportation. The fee for 2012 is $2,600.

Overall, the Program aims to improve the college transition experience of the student, thereby increasing the likelihood of student success in the postsecondary environment. Students participate in simulated college courses, field trips, social activities, and campus and community events. As students become familiar with a campus atmosphere, the academic, social and emotional adjustments that are common with the transition to college are addressed. 

Through application of Embedded Learning Strategy instruction within the context of college level courses, and by utilizing a Learning Conversation approach, participants will develop a better understanding of their strengths and challenges, appreciate their learning styles and develop tools to support executive functioning as they also begin to develop self-awareness and self-regulation capacities.

The time students spend at Muskingum during this summer program will help them enter the college environment feeling confident and comfortable. Students will leave with a better understanding of college expectations and tutorial support and a concrete plan for improving their chances for academic success. Students will develop social connections that will be valuable as they enter Muskingum in the fall. Students will also learn to plan and balancing academic and social demands.


First-Step Activities


The two-week orientation program is packed with academic and social activities geared toward easing the transition from high school to college. Every attempt has been made to simulate the activities that occur in the typical college student schedule.

Morning and afternoon sessions may include lectures, labs, presentations, library work, computer work, tutoring, and study groups and field trips. Cooperative learning activities may also be included. Activities scheduled for the evening sessions include social interactions on and off campus and include trips to the mall, basketball or other games, movies, swimming, etc. Students have plenty of free time to manage, and can often be found socializing, exploring the community and pursing personal interests during this time.


A real-life college environment can show students what decisions and choices need to be made and what might be the results of their choices, as well as help students feel more comfortable as they solve problems and make the college transition. Issues related to independent living in a college setting will also be addressed. Time spent at First Step will enable students to become aware of support offices, the computing center, library resources and entertainment areas such as Kelly Coffee House and the Chess Center at Muskingum University.



First Step is staffed by an Assistant Coordinator, a Life Coordinator, Learning Consultants/Associates and student mentors (who may also serve as contact persons for continuing Muskingum students).


The tutorial component of First Step provides students with effective means to enhance learning strengths and compensate for learning challenges. Guidance from someone who is familiar with college expectations, learning strategies and executive functioning becomes essential as students modify existing strategies and develop new support structures. Tutorials which include strategy instruction and application may emphasize time and materials management, organization, note taking, testing, memory, reading, writing, test debriefing, self-regulation and self-advocacy. As students begin to develop a repertoire of individualized learning strategies, they become more effective and efficient learners. Tutorials, which also include a Learning Conversation approach, support executive functioning and create a platform from which the student may develop self-awareness, self-advocacy and self-regulation skills so students will know and get what they need to succeed.

During the two-week period, participants will identify their own individual academic strengths and challenges. Based on this personal profile, students will implement appropriate learning strategies within the context of academic courses and labs. Students will be given assistance as they practice academic skills and build a foundation of effective strategies and systems for use in college. In partnership with their Learning Consultants, participants will evaluate the results of their efforts. Employing appropriate strategies and systems is essential in college due to the nature and volume of work. Post-secondary learning requires students to connect old and new information, extend or make new associations and effectively use their memory capacities. Strategies also provide structure to the higher order cognitive processing skills demanded in college but not stressed in high school.


Admission to First-Step

First Step application is open to any student making the transition from high school to university who has a learning difference. This transition and orientation is appropriate for incoming Muskingum University students or any student with a learning difference who is preparing to enter a postsecondary program and who is seeking specialized transitional support.

The First Step Program is coordinated through Muskingum University's PLUS Program, which has been providing academic support to students for over two decades. Some aspects of the program are geared specifically to Muskingum University's liberal arts academic program, but most topics covered during the orientation are applicable to other postsecondary programs.


For Additional Information about First-Step

Interested students are encouraged to apply early for the program.

To obtain the First Step Transition Program application materials, or additional information about the Program or Muskingum University, please contact the PLUS Program by phone at 740-826-8280 or by mail to the PLUS Program, Walter Hall, Muskingum University, New Concord, Ohio 43762-1199, or contact:

Melissa Choate, M.Ed., First Step Assistant Coordinator

Walter Hall 42
Muskingum University
New Concord, OH 43762-1199
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