Theo and Rachel’s Stories
Early Fall Start (EFS) allows incoming first-year students to enroll in a University of Washington course about a month before the start of the autumn quarter. With EFS, out-of-state and in-state students like Theo Llewelyn and Rachel Lundeen get a head start on classes and make a smooth transition to life at the UW.
As an out-of-state student from California who graduated from high school during COVID, Theo Llewelyn wasn’t sure if he was ready to transition to college life in a new city and state. So, when his friend suggested enrolling in an Early Fall Start course, which would allow them to move into the residence halls early and complete a class before the school year started, he was all aboard.
“I came out of senior year not feeling prepared for college courses,” he says. “I wanted to readjust to actual learning and higher expectations for coursework again.”
Meanwhile, in-state student Rachel Lundeen was drawn to EFS for different reasons. Being born and raised in Washington, Rachel was familiar with the area. Still, she enrolled in EFS with the encouragement of her high school counselor, who shared the positive experiences of former students who used EFS to ease into their first years at UW.
It felt like we were a cohort, and it was a very manageable introduction to college academics.— Rachel Lundeen, Alumna, EFS
Theo and Rachel both signed up for Revolution!, taught by Professor Ellwood Wiggins. The course allows students to study revolutions throughout history and their representation in paintings, writings, films or songs.
The program provided a taste of the volume of homework students can expect in college and made UW feel like not as big of a place, which Rachel appreciated. “I liked that it was a small class and that we had the chance to interact with Professor Wiggins and each other,” she says.
“It felt like we were a cohort, and it was a very manageable introduction to college academics. Professor Wiggins was incredibly supportive and tailored the assignments to help people transition into college life.”
The relationships Rachel and Theo established with Professor Wiggins during EFS also impacted their futures. “Since Professor Wiggins was part of the German program, he told other professors about the work I'd done and that I had good German skills,” explains Rachel. “When I started my next class, the professor said, ‘I know you. Professor Wiggins told me about you,’ which was awesome.”
Theo adds he enjoyed Professor Wiggins’ teaching and the course so much he ended up taking another course with Professor Wiggins. And that is partly what led Theo to the major he’s choosing – Comparative History of Ideas (CHID).
“I was taking another class with Professor Wiggins in the spring, and it was the same kind of learning, which motivated me to go into the major,” Theo says. “I probably wouldn't have enrolled in another class with Professor Wiggins if I hadn’t taken the EFS course, so my experience in the program definitely factored into picking a major.”
I know many people struggle to adapt to their first year. And I think EFS is a great way to slow that sometimes overwhelming experience.— Theo Llewelyn, Alumnus, EFS
Not only does EFS enable students to network with instructors, but it also helps them make lasting social connections with their peers. “I was surprised at how easy it was to connect with people and feel like I got to know other students, even with the online format," says Rachel. “We still talk on Discord about what we're doing, and we also had an in-person meetup that Professor Wiggins hosted for us in the autumn quarter of 2021 because EFS was online last year.”
Similarly, being on campus early gave Theo time to get to know his classmates and get comfortable with the school and area before the autumn quarter started, which was helpful as an out-of-state student. “I moved into the residence halls during the class, made friends with the students there and went around and explored with them,” he says.
After her positive experience with EFS, Rachel touts the program's value to incoming first-year UW students. “You'll meet people you'll be able to lean on once you start at UW, and you'll also make connections with the faculty,” she says. “Find a class that interests you and sign up for it, for sure.”
Theo concurs, noting EFS made him more comfortable by the time the autumn quarter started. “We had our little group for EFS and when all the other first-year students started moving into the residence halls, it felt like we had been there for a long time. We already knew the area and felt like upper-class students,” he says. “I know many people struggle to adapt to their first year. And I think EFS is a great way to slow that sometimes overwhelming experience.”