First Year Experience Courses

First Year Experience Courses at Southwest Texas Junior College - Scaling Up an Earlier Intervention

COLS - College Success Skills, a course delivering instruction on the psychology of learning and success.

Initiated by a faculty committee on developmental education, a new college success skills course was offered to SWTJC students in the Fall of 2008.  The COLS course began as a required one-semester-hour course for entering students with a developmental deficiency in one or more areas.  In Fall 2009, COLS became a three hour course (COLS 0300) with additional learning outcomes.  During this semester long course students learn about the factors that underlie learning, success and personal development in higher education.

Topics covered include information processing, memory, strategic learning, self-regulation, goal setting, motivation, educational and career planning, and learning styles.  Also covered are techniques of study such as time management, listening and note taking skills, text marking, library and research skills, preparing for examinations, and utilizing learning resources.

SWTJC COLS 0300 -  Course Enrollment and Course Sections

Academic Year           Total Class Enrollment             Total Class Sections

2007-2008                                 21                                            1

2008-2009                               723                                          36

2009-2010                               761                                          32

2010-2011                               773                                          35

2011-2012                               804                                          41

2012-2013                               699                                          36

2013-2014                               547                                          31

2014-2015                               469                                          27

2015-2016                               588                                          33

Grand Total                          5,385                                        272


Southwest Texas Junior College developed a Quality Enhancement Plan that includes a scaled up version of their Achieving the Dream intervention---a college success skills course for developmental education students. The new program "RISE to the Top" includes a Learning Frameworks course (EDUC 1100) that all first-time-in-college students take. Data-driven planning decisions provided a successful pathway to a highly successful SACS-COC reaffirmation visit with ZERO recommendations at the end of the site visit.  The ATD intervention was a cornerstone of the SWTJC Quality Enhancement Plan.


In 2015 this successful intervention was "​scaled up" to serve a larger student population.  The placement policy at Southwest Texas Junior College was revised to require all "first-time-in-college" students to take a FIRST YEAR EXPERIENCE course.  Instead of only developmental students with two or more areas of academic underpreparedness, now all students would be required to take a course similar to the existing COLS 0300.  All developmental education students will take COLS 0300 during their first semester at SWTJC.  Non-developmental students will take a one semester credit hour Learning Frameworks course - EDUC 1100. 

                                                                 Current Results

In the Fall 2015 Semester  there were 19 section of College Success Skills taught.  A total of 372 students were enrolled.  The success rate was 72%.

In the Fall 2015 Semester  there were 23 sections of the Learning Frameworks course taught.  A total of 512 students were enrolled.  The success rate was 68%

For more information about the SWTJC First Year Experience (FYE) intervention, contact the Division Chiar for Developmental Studies at SWTJC, Dr. Mitchel Burchfield. 

There is also a wealth of information about how the "scaling up" process was conducted on the SWTJC Quality Enhancement website:


phone:  830.591.7325


ID 15292

To contact this college about this intervention, take note of the ID above, ID #15292, and then fill out the intervention contact request form

Please note that for security purposes, contact information can only be provided to known contacts at active Achieving the Dream institutions.

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