The American University Experience (AUx) is a full-year graded General Education course specially designed for students transitioning into their first year of college at AU. AUx will become a mandatory course for all first-year students in the fall of 2018 as part of the new AU Core Curriculum.
The American University Experience I (AUx1): Drawing on many academic disciplines including student development theory, this course helps students navigate their academic, social, cultural, and psychological adjustment to university life. AU Experience I (AUx1) helps students transition to their first year at AU. Themes covered in this standardized course include freedom of expression; campus resources; exploring and expressing identities; building academic success; budgeting time and money; health and wellness; finding community; rights and responsibilities; diversity, bias, and privilege; and setting goals for success.
The American University Experience II (AUx2): Race and social identity-which include but are not limited to ethnicity, gender and sexual expression, class, disability, and religion-are often discussed in coded, contentious, or uncomfortable ways. AU Experience II (AUx2) seeks to create a space for conversations and learning about these topics that pushes beyond the norm. The course builds upon concepts introduced in AUx1, blending personal exploration of social identity formation with a multidisciplinary approach to race and ethnicity. This course is a starting point for the academic study of the structures of culture and power as well as social movements that challenge those structures. The course equips students to become part of a community of learners whose members come from a variety of backgrounds and bring with them a range of experiences.
Both courses are taught in a hybrid format. Students will complete online learning and writing assignments through Blackboard (AU's e-learning platform) and meet weekly for small group discussions of approximately 19 students. Weekly classes are co-facilitated by a faculty, staff, or alumni Instructor and a junior or senior student Peer Leader specially trained to work with first-year students.
Assessment by university researchers demonstrates how AUx helps students thrive in college. In 2016 and 2017, researchers found that AUx helped students to better navigate university resources, feel included on campus, and identify mentors on campus who encouraged them to pursue their goals. As a result, students reported feeling happier about their transition to the university and that AU was a place where they belonged.