WKU’S M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan changing program routine in 26th year

It’s that time of year where recent high school graduates will soon be making their way to college campuses to begin a new chapter of their lives. In just three weeks, new students will be arriving on Western Kentucky University’s campus to do just that. With all the craziness and nerves that comes with moving to a new place with new people, one program at WKU has made some adjustments to help incoming freshmen feel right at home on the Hill. 

"Transition programs like M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan are an essential part of a student’s initial connection to a college campus," said Blair Jensen, a M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan Coordinator and an Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life at WKU. "It’s part of their integration."

To accommodate that integration, WKU is implementing big changes to its M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan program that is entering its 26th year on campus. After a comprehensive review of M.A.S.T.E.R. (Making Academic and Social Transitions Educationally Rewarding) Plan following the completion of its 25th year, coordinators decided it was time to mix things up a bit in preparation for the more than 2,000 students that will be arriving on campus in the class of 2022.

"Last semester we went through a very thorough review of the M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan program and identified some areas where we could make some improvements," Jensen said.

The first improvement they decided upon was changing the days that move-in would take place, as well as shortening the gap between the end of the program’s activities on Saturday and the beginning of first semester classes two days later.

"This year, M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan will still take place the week before classes begin, but move-in will take place over a Monday-Tuesday, and then the [educational] sessions will run throughout the week Wednesday, Thursday, Friday," said Jensen. "We have kind of a big ending program on Saturday. Sunday becomes kind of an off day. Then the first day of classes is on Monday."

The program keeps new students busy during their first several days on campus. In the mornings and afternoons, students attend academic programs to help them adjust to what college classes will feel like.

"Those [educational] sessions are really designed to provide students with information and resources to really set them up for success during their first semester on campus," said Jensen.

During the night is when things get fun, with the program offering a wide variety of unique, fun, social activities to give the new Hilltoppers a chance to get to know their new classmates on a more personal basis.

"Everything from outdoor movies, ghost story tours, glow-in-the-dark paint parties, hypnotists, carnivals," Jensen said. "All kinds of great things happen during M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan week."

Jensen added that these types of transitional programs are essential for setting students up for future successes in college.

"They help students learn how to navigate a new environment," she said. "It allows them to make connections and build support networks that are going to support them throughout their first year of college. It also makes them aware of various resources on campus should they find that they are struggling academically or socially."

Move-in for freshmen begins on Monday, August 20 through Tuesday, August 21, with first semester classes starting the following Monday on August 27.