New textbook would improve on the freshman experience


A new textbook on the freshman experience in higher education has a UNC Pembroke flavor.

Saundra Richardson-CoxSaundra Richardson-Cox, director of the Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) and UNCP’s Freshman Seminar program, was a reviewer for “Focus on College Success” (Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2008) by Dr. Constance Staley.

A faculty member and director of Freshman Seminar programs at the University of Colorado, Dr. Staley has earned national recognition as a leader in this growing field. “Focus on College Success” is expected to be a textbook for many universities as they seek to strengthen efforts to support freshmen.

“This book has everything in it for the freshman experience,” Richardson-Cox said. “I use it as a reference wherever I go; it’s a great resource.”

In her 6th year at UNCP and 4th as CAE director, Richardson-Cox said “Focus” advocates for state-of-the-art strategies to bridge freshmen into college and engage them with their university.

“In ‘Focus,’ Dr. Staley offers many good ideas on how to connect, engage and retain students,” Richardson-Cox said. “I jumped at the opportunity to review the book; it is the future of freshman experience programs.”

Textbook CoverDr. Staley advocates for a broader, more comprehensive freshman seminar that is a three credit, semester-long class, Richardson-Cox said. UNCP is considering a similar approach.

UNCP’s Freshman Seminar is required of all freshmen and is a 12-week, one credit class.

“Our students really need Freshman Seminar and a ramped-up version would go even farther in meeting the needs of students today,” Richardson-Cox said.

For her work as a reviewer, Richardson-Cox received a customized edition with a UNCP photo on the cover. “Focus on College Success” offers a comprehensive program including video and audio interactive study tools for learning in class and on the go.

The text addresses varied learning styles and engages students in real-life situations. “Focus” also contains computerized instructor tutorials, sample tests and surveys which help University administrators pinpoint retention issues.

Under the umbrella of the Center for Academic Excellence are the UNCP’s Peer Study Support Program, Early Alert System, Center for Adult Learners, Supplemental Instruction and advising for all undeclared students and assistance with new student orientation. CAE also manages UPeers, a student support program and BraveWire, a Web-based tool for parents of freshmen.

Richardson-Cox brings considerable experience in admissions, advising and retention programs to UNCP. Her career in higher education began in 1979 at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is a graduate of Grambling University and earned a Master of Science degree in Counseling from the University of Evansville.

The CAE may be contacted at 910.521.6625 or by emailing