Bryant University’s award-winning First Year Gateway program provides first year students with a foundation that will serve them for the rest of their lives. By exploring fundamental questions across multiple disciplines in the context of their experiences as new college students they hone the skills–and find the support–they’ll need to excel.
"The Gateway program really helps you become a more well-rounded student and challenges you to think in different ways and use different parts of your brain," says Bryant senior Alyssa Collins '22. "It's something that, when I look back, I'm really thankful for."
An introduction to college life
“Bryant’s mission is to inspire students and help them find their passion and become global leaders with character. In order to achieve those goals, they need strong foundational skills that will empower them going forward,” explains Associate Provost Wendy Samter, Ph.D. Gateway programming ensures that students have what they need to make the most of their time at Bryant and find success post-graduation.
The Gateway program starts before students even arrive on campus through a Student Success online course that eases the adjustment into higher education. “The online course has a dual-purpose,” notes Laurie Hazard, Ed.D., Gateway Coordinator and Assistant Dean for Student Success. “It helps students start to think about the difference between high school and college while also introducing them to Bryant and what makes the University unique.”
"Adjusting to college work can be different and challenging, but Gateway definitely teaches you a lot of things that get you ready for your courses and prepare you for college in general. It introduces you to the community, to the professors, and to the different offerings that you can get involved in.”
That introduction continues throughout the year through events and information sessions covering everything from developing key study skills to connecting with invaluable support services such as the Academic Center for Excellence. The annual MyPATH Showcase introduces students to all of the academic, career and professional development options available to them.
The program also connects students with cocurricular activities. “We try to emphasize to students that what goes on inside of the classroom has a strong relationship to what goes on outside of the classroom,” says Hazard. “The Gateway program helps student to be intentional about choosing co-curricular activities that will enhance their classroom experiences as well as their thinking about their future.”
It’s a comprehensive approach, and one that works. "Adjusting to college work can be different and challenging, but Gateway definitely teaches you a lot of things that get you ready for your courses and prepare you for college in general,” says Collins. “It introduces you to the community, to the professors, and to the different offerings that you can get involved in,”
“When we launched the Gateway, we did a great deal of research and asked what do employers need from a 21st century employee in a globalized digital world?”
The foundation of a lifetime
Gateway coursework introduces students to studies at the intersection of business and the liberal arts and sciences, the hallmark of a Bryant education. Interdisciplinary by nature, the Gateway brings together students from Bryant’s College of Business and College of Arts and Sciences to learn from one another. “Our first year students are coming to their college experience with different personalities and with varied interests. By working and learning together through Gateway, they come to realize that everyone has their own strengths and perspective, which improves their teamwork skills and makes them better problem solvers,” states Hazard.
“When we launched the Gateway, we did a great deal of research and asked what do employers need from a 21st century employee in a globalized digital world?” Hazard notes. “Gateway program students develop skills that are transferable across all domains.” The program ensure students are well-versed regarding information literacy, effective communication, ethical reasoning, critical thinking, diversity, equity and inclusion.
Gateway’s immersive, wide-reaching courses can lead to eye-opening moments regarding future paths. In Global Foundations of Character and Leadership, students explore what it means to be effective citizens in the 21st century. In Global Foundations of Organizations and Business, they examine the core concepts that govern corporations around the world and put them into action by developing innovative solutions to global problems. Events such as the annual Ethics lecture broaden their perspectives and spark important discussions in class and beyond.
"The Gateway program builds you up in the best way to get you started at Bryant. It’s a good transition, because there’s so many people there to help you figure things out."
"Through Gateway, you’re exposed to all these new things and you realize all of the different ways you can take your education," says Liam Fluharty '23, a Leadership and Innovation major who found inspiration in his Global Foundations of Character and Leadership class. "You can steer it to whatever your interest is."
Other courses provide the groundwork for practical skills. Writing Workshop and Introduction to Literary Studies classes aid students in becoming discerning readers and critical thinkers who can express themselves thoughtfully and effectively. Bryant’s groundbreaking IDEA (Innovation and Design Experience for All) program, a three-day innovation bootcamp, helps them to develop creativity, resilience and collaborative problem-solving skills they’ll refer back to throughout the rest of their lives.
A network of support
Through engaging with the Gateway community, students forge invaluable connections with faculty, staff, and each other. "The Gateway program builds you up in the best way to get you started at Bryant. It’s a good transition, because there’s so many people there to help you figure things out." Collins notes.
“Bryant is such a great, inviting community and Gateway helps you become part of the community right from the start.”
The Gateway professors are committed to helping students make the leap to living and learning at a collegiate level while assisting them in navigating any challenges they experience. “Some of Bryant’s best and most caring faculty members teach in the Gateway. They understand the different facets of the college transition and are dedicated not only to teaching course content but to ensuring students thrive as well,” shares Samter, who notes the teachers form “communities of practice” where they consult with one another on pedagogical methods and how best to serve their students.
Forging the strong, supportive network students require also means involving parents. Regular communications update them on what’s going on in the Gateway program, what their child is experiencing at college, and how they can contribute to their success. “The college transition isn’t just happening to the student, it affects the whole family,” points out Hazard. “It’s important for colleges and universities to help parents understand that transition and keep them informed so that they can support their sons and daughters.”
For many of the students, the bonds they form with each other through Gateway events, classes and other activities are invaluable. “Bryant is such a great, inviting community and Gateway helps you become part of the community right from the start,” says Fluharty, who met several close friends through the program.