First-Year Experience

Picture of Freshman Experience students

Welcome to the First-year Experience Program... It's where you live!

The First-year Experience Program is a self-selected living option offered by Housing and Residence Life. Our purpose is to help 1st year residents build a solid personal and academic foundation within the context of a diverse and inclusive community. The program helps residents learn to understand their own personal identity and how to engage in their new community, which are cornerstones for success at Georgia Tech.

First-year success is critical at any college, but especially one as challenging as Georgia Tech. Nationally, one out of five college students drop out during the first year. The First-year Experience program addresses this problem by providing a network of support systems, thereby increasing the likelihood of achieving academic and personal success.

While the First-year Experience is designed to provide you with a foundation of support, it does not restrict your personal growth. As a First-year Experience participant, you will not be led around campus in a group or have your free time overly structured. You will be recognized for the adult that you are, and you will be respected and encouraged. The program's resources are there for you when you need them, but will not interfere in your life when you don't.

Our Mission Statement

The First-year Experience Program creates a living-learning community that supports the successful transition of new students to the Georgia Tech culture. Program components challenge and support students in their personal, academic, and leadership development. Our student-centered environment enhances overall retention and encourages contribution to the Georgia Tech community.

Our purpose is to help 1st year residents build a solid personal and academic foundation within the context of a diverse and inclusive community. The program helps residents learn to understand their own personal identity and how to engage in their new community, which are cornerstones for success at Georgia Tech.

Enroll in First-year Experience

So how can you participate?

Complete your online housing application form and select the First-year Experience program. The program has a limited number of spaces, so be sure to apply early. Applying for the program does not guarantee a space. There are spaces on east and west campus. If you have additional questions, contact Housing at 404-894-3045.

Components of the First-year Experience Program:

1: Living Together - Housing & Meal Plan

First-year Housing

First-year Experience participants live and eat together. All of the residents in these halls are first-year except for our student staff members, who serve as Peer Leaders.

The First-year Experience has approximately 2,400 bed spaces on east and west campus.

Living in a First-year Experience residence hall means that you are a part of the First-year Experience Program. Since many students take a similar course load during the first year, you will be living in communities where your neighbors are also your classmates.

Your peers are one of your biggest support networks here at Georgia Tech. You are living with people who are going through similar experiences as you. When you are staying up late studying for tests or writing papers, it is reassuring to know that many of your hall mates are doing the same.

The First-year Experience Program is located in residence halls on both the east and west sides of campus, and the residence halls on each side of campus are located in close proximity to a dining hall. All of the First-year Experience residence halls are traditional style, meaning double-occupancy rooms* on a hall with a community bathroom. The residence halls with larger floors have more than one community bathroom.

Note: There are rooms in the First-year Experience Program that are triple and quad occupancy.

The First-year Meal Plan

Eating together, socializing with your friends, meeting for an evening snack...all of this comes with your Meal Plan. Meal plans at Georgia Tech allow to access Community Restaurants. For more details about our dining options, please go to the Dining Services website.

Additionally, students can use their dining points at all 19 retail locations across campus including Chick-fil-a, Panda Express, and Blue Donkey, just to name a few. Vegan, vegetarian, and halal options are also available.

2: Leadership and Involvement Opportunities

Within the Freshman Experience Program, there are many opportunities to get involved and develop and foster leadership skills.

Emerging Leaders

The Emerging Leaders Program provides participants with the knowledge and resources to expand their personal and professional leadership skills. The program inspires participants to develop their leadership skills through self-assessment by forging effective partnerships with campus and community leaders and by acquiring the appropriate knowledge required to refine the critical skills for effective leadership. The program will offer experiences and develop skills in communication, group management, and team building, while also taking into account the participant's individual leadership style. The program provides opportunities to examine personal values, opinions, and beliefs to discover potential and expand horizons.

Hall Council

Hall Councils are part of the Georgia Tech Residence Hall Association (RHA). They consist of officers and presidents of the buildings in a particular area. The Hall Council is the primary governing body for those halls. For first-year students, Hall Council officers are elected by the residents in the area within the first two weeks of Fall semester. Residents serve as representatives in Hall Council and are encouraged to take an active role during meetings and within the residence halls. The purpose of the Hall Council is to regulate policy issues, such as quiet hours, and to plan programs for the residents. They are the link between the residents and RHA.

First-year Activities Board

The mission of the First-year Activities Board (FAB) is to provide excellent programming for the freshman class, while developing its freshman members into leaders of the Georgia Tech community. FAB members are selected during the fall semester and receive a budget that they use to plan activities for the rest of the freshman class. They are guided by an advisory board of former FAB members who help them in the planning and implementation of the events they conceptualize. FAB members come up with the ideas for all of the events they hold - it really is their organization. Examples of previous FAB events are a double-decker bus tour of Atlanta, a toga party, volunteer events at local schools and child care centers, as well as many events during RATS Week, the welcome week for new GT students.

3: Utilizing Academic Resources

Housing and Residence Life understands the importance of your academic success at the Institute and strives to provide you with the academic support resources you need in your "home away from home". 

The First-year Experience Program trains our student peer leaders to know where residents can seek free tutoring.  There are multiple entities that do all sorts of tutoring: from one on one tutoring, to department sponsored walk in tutoring hours in the CULC to the PLUS tutoring offered by the Center for Academic Success.  With more than 8 entities doing tutoring, knowing where to get support can be a challenge.

We partner with PLUS (Peer Led Undergraduate Study) to bring study sessions on topics like linear algebra and chemistry staffed by the Campus Center for Academic Success to the halls.  PLUS tutors attend class with the students and then create out of class problem sets and sessions where students can learn from each other. Tutors also meet with the faculty multiple times a term so they know what material to help residents focus on!

We also maintain some excellent study spaces so you can invite friends and study groups to meet up and learn from each other. 

For specific information regarding academic programs on your floor and in your residence hall, study lounges, opportunities for faculty interaction, academic coaching, as well as informational resources to point you in the right direction of additional campus services please visit your hall director.

Throughout your day-to-day interaction with your Peer Leader, Hall Director, or any other staff member in GT Housing & Residence Life, we hope that we are able to provide you with guidance that will help you excel in your academic endeavors. The entire campus is full of academic services and resources just for you. 

4: Upperclass Connections: Resident Assistants

The First-year Experience Program has Resident Assistants (RAs) who live on the floor along with first-year students. RAs are upperclass students who share their experiences with you as well as introduce you to the campus and its resources, and people who can get you going in the right direction.

Your RA will plan activities for the section and the floor. Some past activities have included trips to a Braves game, paintball, dinner out in Atlanta, movies, participation in Georgia Tech's TEAM Buzz community service day, intramural teams, dream interpretation program by the Counseling Center, and going to GT sporting events together. Even though all activities are optional, this is a great way to meet others in your community.

Resident Assistants can also help you answer questions such as:

  • When is Drop Day for classes?
  • How do I register for classes for Spring Semester?
  • When are fees due?
  • Who is my academic advisor?
  • How do I change my major?

There is one RA for approximately every 20 first-year students.

5: Developing Best Practices

Students who participate in the First-year Experience program and take GT1000 are 95% likely to continue on for their second year at Georgia Tech. Programs and services in the First-year Experience program and through your GT1000 class will help you develop skills for success at Georgia Tech. Students can attend programs on time management, discuss a study plan with their hall director or a professional in Success Programs. Additionally, Peer Leaders do a check-up with residents three times a year to see how students are doing academically and socially.

Top Ten Strategies for Success for First Year Students
  1. Use a Planner
    • Use for weekly assignments as well as planning out your whole semester. Look at which weeks are going to be packed with tests and which weeks are going to be a little easier
  2. Go to class
    • Seems obvious, but when 8 am rolls around, you're going to want to stay in bed, but by going to class, you'll not only get the notes on the topics covered, you'll receive vital information from the professors about what to expect on tests, changes in due dates, etc.
  3. Go to Office Hours
    • Going to professors' office hours makes them that much more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt when assigning grades. Also, in classes where homework is graded for accuracy, going to office hours is often the only way to get 100% on homework
  4. Get involved on Campus
    • At a big school like Georgia Tech, it's very important to find the community you want to belong to. Whether it's sailing or soccer or scrapbooking, getting involved will make your college experience so much better.
  5. Don't feel pressured to declare your major
    • It's better to spend a semester doing your homework and investigating a major than to spend four years studying something you have no desire to pursue.
  6. Go to Career Services and open a CareerBuzz account
    • Whether you want to get an internship right after freshman year or you have plans to look for employment in the future, having your resume on CareerBuzz puts your name out there and could bring an opportunity you don't even know exists.
  7. Prioritize
    • Prioritize your to-do list. Start with what's most important. Also, prioritize your assignments. Start with the things that will have a direct impact on your final grade.
  8. Ask for help
    • With so many resources on campus, there's no reason not to ask for help. Visit the Learning Assistance Program or 1-to-1 tutoring, or OMED tutoring, or any of the other programs on campus.
  9. Keep track of your money
    • Try to make a budget so that you can avoid working during the school year, or at least keep hours during the school year to a minimum. Also, avoid all the credit card solicitations you're about to be getting, you're probably going to have enough debt when you graduate
  10. Be prepared to feel overwhelmed
    • Georgia Tech is not the typical college experience for most students. We are fifth in the country for a reason, do your best and do what you have to do to complete your assignments.

Living Learning Communities

Picture of students at a Living Learning Community gathering.

Living Learning Communities are an academic strategy that link academics to on-campus living. Each Georgia Tech community is an integrated experience that promotes interactions between faculty and students, fosters collaboration among students, improves student GPA, enhances campus and civic engagement, increases retention, and eases both the academic and social transition to college.