The First-Year Experience (FYE) at Alvernia was developed to help students make a successful transition to college life and to learn about the mission and traditions of Alvernia University. The First-Year Experience (FYE) comprises multiple academic and student life transitions into higher education, which include Connection Days, New Student Orientation, and the first-year SEARCH seminar. Alvernia University’s First-Year Experience also promotes various student experiences, such as day trips through Student Activities or living-learning communities through Residence Life, throughout the first year at Alvernia University. See below for more information about the First-Year Experience.

Connection Days and Orientation

The Office of New Student Programs leads these two initiatives to help students transition successfully into both college and Alvernia life. The goal of both programs to provide support through information, peer interaction, faculty/staff interaction, and programs to all first year students. Connection Day is a day that first year students are invited to campus to begin to gain information and a sense of what their experience at Alvernia will be like while allowing the students to begin to connect to their peers and the Alvernia faculty and staff within the community. Orientation is the program that starts the freshman's academic year. Students get to interact with their SEARCH Seminar class, instructor, Peer Mentor, Navigator, and are assigned Orientation Weekend Leaders (OWLs) to assist them in their transition. Students get to participate in several information sessions and participate in social opportunities to engage in the Alvernia experience.

Required First-Year Courses

While students are at Alvernia to focus on their academic field of study, they are also challenged to develop as life-long learners and ethical leaders with moral courage. These goals begin to be met through first-year common courses and engagement with a common text. During their first year at Alvernia, all students are required to take the First-Year Seminar (SEARCH 101), Communication 101 (COM 101), Philosophy 105 (PHI 105), and Theology 105 (THE 105). These courses will be selected by students enrolling for Fall 2024 at their Connection Day.

Academic advising is central to students’ first-year experience. Together with SEARCH Seminar, advising helps students establish a strong foundation during their first year at Alvernia. The faculty SEARCH Seminar instructor is also their academic adviser. This allows students to develop a relationship with their advisor that will endure during their entire first year at Alvernia and beyond. It will also help them connect their class experiences to their co-curricular experiences.

The final experience is the common reading program. All first-year students read an interesting and thought-provoking text, which they discuss in their SEARCH seminar course. Events, speakers, and course offerings are thematically related to the reading. Students are asked to think critically about the topic and viewpoints the reading offers.

Residential Experience and Living-Learning Communities

All first-year students are required to live on-campus, unless they meet the conditions to be a commuter student (see section below). Alvernia offers multiple traditional, semi-private, and private residence hall rooms for students to select for their first year. First-year students register for housing through their student applicant portal over the summer, and will receive an email on their Alvernia email account with directions to register.

All residence halls are staffed by undergraduate Resident Assistants (RAs), who are current Alvernia students that plan fun events for their floor, check in with their students, and ensure the community is happy and healthy. RAs are supervised by Area Coordinators (ACs), who are full-time professionals that oversee the logistics and community building of multiple RAs and residence halls. First year students are encouraged to make a connection with their RA and AC as soon as they move-in, as these are the individuals that handle all questions regarding rooms, policies, meal plans, etc.

Commuter Student Support

Students who reside full-time in the Reading or Berks County area have the opportunity to commute from home instead of living on campus. Students who are not living on campus will also receive additional support the first year. One of the following conditions must be met to be considered a commuter student:

  • Living at home with parent(s) or legal guardian(s)
  • Caregiver of a juvenile, elderly, or disabled family member
  • At least 21 years old
  • Completed 30 or more credits
  • Married
  • Needing a medical accommodation that Alvernia residence life cannot provide

Students must submit a Petition to be a Commuter through the Alvernia Residential Communities portal and receive approval from Residence Life to be placed on commuter status.

First-Year Experience