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Texas State University
Texas State University

Leading the Way

The Nation's #1 Initiative of Its Kind

Texas State University presents an academic theme each year with related events for everyone. This is our Common Experience.

We proudly offer our students more themed academic event opportunities than any other university in the nation. Many peer institutions include a common reading book and activities to bring together new students in a first-year experience (FYE). At Texas State, our thematic approach and remarkable collaborations enable much more — for the entire campus and community.

239 events last year

The Common Experience at Texas State offers more events than similar initiatives anywhere in the nation.

89% first-year student participation

The nation's highest participation rate for an FYE initiative offering numerous academic activities: 89% of first-year students engage in our Common Experience.

2,468% above average social media

Our Twitter engagement is 2,468% above industry average for higher education. Our Instagram and Facebook accounts are torchbearers for engagement as well.

Early on, the vision was to connect entering students to a shared conversation, but it quickly grew to include upper-level classes, student support services, campus activities, performing arts, and the San Marcos schools and community. The intentional connecting of many facets of university life is the kind of project that a small private liberal arts college might take on, but we cannot find evidence of a large public university ever having undertaken something so ambitious and encompassing.

—Dr. Denise Trauth,
president of Texas State University

2008

8,200 Common Reading books

We provide all incoming first-year students with a powerful book related to the year's theme. Only five universities in the nation distribute more copies.

83% readership

An average of 83.4% of University Seminar students reported reading part or all of the Common Reading book over the past four fall semesters.

Documentation

Total Events

The Common Experience at Texas State offered 239 events during the 2018-2019 academic year, 234 of which were academically aligned. Over the past four academic years, we have presented an average of 194 events per year — more than any other university in the nation. In terms of academic events tied to students' first-year experience or a campus-wide common experience, Texas State's closest peer is The Ohio State University, which presented 99 academic events in fall 2016 (program for fall semester only), the last year for which we found data. Ohio State also presents 300 student-success events each year, but those events are not typically related directly to academic affairs. The next-closest peer for which we have figures is the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which offers 50-75 academic events each year. Sources: program websites, along with personal phone calls and email correspondence with peer-institution program directors, February 2019.

First-Year Student Participation

While no comprehensive studies exist for comparing participation rates at peer institutions' first-year experience (FYE) events, Texas State's thematic model for academic events is uncommon, and our records demonstrate remarkable levels of student activity. Among peer institutions for which we have data — recorded or anecdotal — the Common Experience at Texas State claims the nation's highest participation rate for an FYE initiative offering multiple/numerous academic events and activities. During the fall 2018 semester, 89% of our first-year students reported participating in Common Experience activities, and every ticketed event that semester was sold out (but no students were turned away). One peer institution reported in 2016 that roughly 90% of its first-year students attended convocation, but only 2% to 4% would attend another FYE event. Sources: Texas State US 1100 course evaluation results (fall semesters, 2015-2018) and a report shared by a peer program at the Annual Conference on the First-Year Experience, 2016.

Social Media Engagement

Engagement rate is defined by the number of interactions (likes, favorites, reactions, comments, retweets, and/or shares) divided by the total number of account followers. On Twitter, the average engagement rate for higher education accounts is 0.062%; the @TXSTCE account averaged 1.53% engagement (2,468% higher) on more than 986,000 impressions from June 2018 to June 2019. On Facebook, higher education accounts' average engagement rate is 0.19%; the @TXSTCE account averaged 3.95% engagement (2,079% higher) during September 2018, the account's busiest month. On Instagram, higher education accounts' average engagement rate is 3.39%; the @TXSTCE account averaged 12.4% engagement (366% higher) during the entire 2018 calendar year. Sources: RivalIQ's 2018 Higher Ed Social Media Engagement Report and @TXSTCE account analytics on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Common Reading Books

The Common Experience at Texas State distributes 8,200 copies of each year's Common Reading book to first-year students, as well as other students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding community. These are the universities that distribute more books for common-read initiatives each year, by totals: University of Wisconsin-Madison (12,000), Michigan State University (11,000), The Ohio State University (10,212), University of California-Los Angeles (10,000), and University of California-Berkeley (8,500 digital copies). Comparison numbers courtesy of Penguin Random House publishers, February 2019.

Readership

In fall 2017, over 87% of Texas State’s first-year students reported reading part or all of the Common Reading book. For comparison, a leading peer institution reported in 2016 that roughly half of its students did not read their book at all. At the same time, outside research by then-doctoral student Kali Morgan (University of South Florida) determined that more Texas State students read ¾-to-all of their book (35.1%) than read less than ¼ (33.6%). Additional sources: Texas State course evaluations for University Seminar (US 1100) classes, fall semesters 2015-2018, and a report shared by a peer program at the Annual Conference on the First-Year Experience, 2016.