Recognizing that the transition from high school to college can be difficult, a growing number of universities are reinventing their approach to teaching first-year students -- with the goal of making students feel welcomed and keeping them enrolled.

The freshman experience at large state universities can often still resemble a failed social experiment more than the start of a four-year journey to enlightenment.

Overwhelmed freshmen in many places still sit anonymously in large lecture halls, surrounded by hundreds of peers whose names the professor couldn't possibly remember. Dorm life isn't much better, with total-stranger roommates sharing little other than a desire to


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