UHD’s Gator Gateway Focused on First Year Success for Freshmen

Orientation program aimed at familiarizing students with university experience
Friday, September 27, 2019 - 11:09 am
“We’re proud that you selected UHD as your university,” said Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz, UHD president, while meeting College of Sciences & Technology (CST) freshmen during Gator Gateway.“We’re proud that you selected UHD as your university,” said Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz, UHD president, while meeting College of Sciences & Technology (CST) freshmen during Gator Gateway.

HOUSTON (July 15, 2019)—The fall semester has yet to begin, but freshmen are already attending lectures and meeting with professors at the University of Houston Downtown.

For the third consecutive year, UHD’s Gator Gateway is providing a preview of college life for incoming freshmen. This four-day orientation focuses on familiarizing each “first time in college” (FTIC) student with a new learning environment and introducing them to the campus.

Gator Gateway is mandatory for all freshmen and helps promote success for these FTICs during their first (and very critical) academic year at UHD. It also helps ensure they start off their academic journeys on the right foot.

“We’re proud that you selected UHD as your university,” said Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz, UHD president, while meeting College of Sciences & Technology (CST) freshmen during Gator Gateway. “Look around this city, and you’ll see the many outstanding graduates from this university. They include leaders in law enforcement, education, business, science, technology and other industries. Before you realize it, you will be among them and doing great things for our community.”

Gator Gateway began July 8 welcoming freshmen from the College of Humanities & Social Sciences. During the next few weeks, students from other UHD colleges will have their own Gator Gateway experience. This week, CST students are on campus and soon, Gator Gateway welcomes students from the College of Public Service (July 22-25); Marilyn Davies College of Business (July 28-August 1); and University College (August 5-8). Approximately 1,300 freshmen are expected to participate in Gator Gateway this year.

According to Eugene Bernard, director of student transitions and UHD’s welcome center, Gator Gateway helps freshmen understand what to expect when they arrive to the university. Likewise, it helps these new Gators understand what’s expected of them as students.

“It’s like a prequel of the actual university experience,” he said. “The current generation of students likes to ‘see it, touch it and feel it’ before actually experiencing it. They want to be ready, and Gator Gateway does exactly that. It really prepares them for their first semester at a university.”

During Gator Gateway, students attend lectures led by UHD faculty, providing a sample of what awaits them in the classroom. They also meet college deans and advisers and hear from UHD leadership, including President Muñoz and others. Other activities are designed to help students navigate the campus, particularly the areas occupied by their respective colleges.

Among the most important aspects of Gator Gateway is that the four-day experience allows students to form early bonds with their future classmates.

“By the fourth day, we’re able to see that students are making friends,” Bernard said. “They participate in team-building exercises that help build camaraderie. They’re able to connect with each other and build early friendships, which are very helpful for students arriving at a new university.”

Gator Gateway complements other initiatives aimed at helping students prepare for the fall semester and learning about UHD. Other events include Gator Ready, a one-day program in which FTICs register for courses, learn about financial aid opportunities, and learn about different majors. Events aimed at transfer students include Gator Preview, which partners UHD with community colleges to offer information on the transfer process and applying to UHD. Likewise, “Gator Preview Live,” a webcast, shares insights from each of the colleges and shares details on the transfer process.

“When these students arrive on the first day of school, they’ll see familiar faces and know where classrooms and offices are,” Bernard said. “It will feel like home to them.”

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second-largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.

As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz. Annually, UHD educates more than 14,000 students; boasts over 50,000 alumni; and offers 44 bachelor’s and eight master’s degree programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College). In 2018, UHD grew its “first time in college” student population by 11% and transfer students by 14%.

UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston. It also is ranked among 15 U.S. universities with lowest net price to students (according to the U.S. Department of Education). The university is noted nationally as both a Hispanic-Serving Institution and a Minority-Serving Institution. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.