Surviving killer college courses

June 28, 2007
Reported by Pam Dixon

Allison Logan is taking a human anatomy and physiology class at McNeese-- a class that's considered to be a killer course. It's even a bit challenging for the former high school valedictorian. Logan says, "You're learning 20-30 bones at a time. In high school, you would have maybe learned ten, so it's a lot to cram in."

Freshman biology and algebra classes are problem courses for a majority of first year students.  They have a high failure or withdrawal rate. Dr. Juliana Hinton says as many as half to two thirds of the students in her first year biology classes drop out of them. Hinton says, "It's very important to not only remember the information but to know that they have to study every night for the courses."

First year success is important because students are making the transition from high school to higher education-- an experience that can make or break them and determine whether they graduate. The good news-- McNeese has been awarded a 163-thousand dollar grant to help get students get through those killer courses. Dr. Howard Stevenson was instrumental in securing the grant. Stevenson says, "What we're going to do is to develop a peer-peer mentoring program, that is students who have already been through the courses and have done well and been successful in college can help these students who are coming into school to transition into this new environment and have a greater probability of success."

McNeese will pay student mentors to not only tutor newer students in these killer subjects, but also counsel them about the whole university experience.

McNeese was one of seven Louisiana colleges and universities that received more than four million dollars from the Board of Regents to help improve the number of scientific students.