In fall 2011, 108 Manhattan College freshmen entered a program called The Arches, designed to make the transition to college easier by fostering a sense of community.
Currently in its second semester, the pilot program is getting rave reviews from the students involved.
“I thought The Arches was a great experience … I made some incredible friends. That first week was a great experience for me. I’ve met so many people that I otherwise wouldn’t have met,” Nelson da Luz, a frosh majoring in civil engineering, said in a phone interview.
Students who signed up for the program all live on one of two floors in MC’s East Hill Residence Hall. There, four “learning living assistants,” or older students who function as mentors within the program, put on events to bring the students together. For example, during the holidays, Sarah Conte, one of the learning living assistants, held a Christmas party where students made stockings, watched Elf, ate cookies and drank hot cocoa.
But the bonding began before the rest of the student body had even arrived on campus, when freshman participants came in August for a week of group events meant to bring them closer together. Students did a ropes course in Queens, took a double-decker bus tour of the city, engaged in a scavenger hunt in Riverdale and toured one of three locales — the Bronx Zoo, the Cloisters or the Museum of Natural History.
“The first week … we were all brand new … having that whole week to get to know each other … it was absolutely amazing,” Sean Mcintyre, a freshman civil engineering major, said.
The program has an academic component as well. Students all take two “Arches classes” together — English and religious studies.
“A lot of us are in the same classes so we all help each other with homework. It was great during finals week,” Mr. da Luz said.