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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 academic event opportunities than any other university. 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.



More Opportunities For Everyone

The Common Experience at Texas State has offered 239 events during the 2018-2019 theme on Innovation. Over the past four academic years, we have averaged 194 events — more than any other university in the nation.1



Meaningful Appeal to First-Year Students

The nation's highest participation rate for an FYE initiative offering multiple events: 89 percent of our first-year students attended at least one event during the fall 2018 semester, and every ticketed event was oversold.2



Stronger Social Media Engagement

The Common Experience engagement rate on Twitter is 2,774 percent above the industry average for higher education. Our Facebook and Instagram accounts surpass higher education averages by 2,079 and 365 percent, respectively.3



More Common Reading Books

We provide all incoming first-year students with a powerful Common Reading book related to the year's theme. Only five universities in the nation distribute more books to students, faculty, and others each year.4



More Readers

Students explore the Common Reading book in University Seminar (US 1100) and other courses. An average of 83.4 percent of US 1100 students have reported reading part or all of the book over the past four fall semesters.5

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


1 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). Ohio State presents 300 student-success events each year, but those events are not typically academic in nature. The University of Wisconsin-Madison 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.

2 One peer institution reported in 2016 that roughly 90 percent of its first-year students attended convocation, but only 2 to 4 percent 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.

3 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 percent; the @TXSTCE account averaged 1.72 percent from June through December 2018. On Facebook, the higher education average is 0.19 percent; the @TXSTCE account averaged 3.95 percent during September 2018, the account's busiest month. On Instagram, the higher education average is 3.39 percent; the @TXSTCE account averaged 12.4 percent 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.

4 Comparison numbers courtesy of Penguin Random House publishers, February 2019. The universities ordering more books 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).

In Fall 2017, over 87 percent 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 percent) than read less than ¼ (33.6 percent). 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.