Campus Life

Hullabaloo U Reaches Record Enrollment

Since its 2019 inception, nearly 50,000 Aggies have learned success strategies in the First-Year Experience course.
By Sydnie Harrell ’24, Texas A&M University Office of Undergraduate Studies September 11, 2023

Hullabaloo U Aggie 1st year experience
Hullabaloo U courses are taught by staff from across campus, and students serve as peer mentors.


Marking an unprecedented achievement, Texas A&M University’s Hullabaloo U course secured enrollment from 99% of freshmen for the fall 2023 semester, or about 12,540 students.

“I was overjoyed to learn that our enrollment in Hullabaloo U (HU) and HU-certified courses is 99%,” said Dr. Timothy Scott, vice provost for student success. “I am very grateful to our small, but mighty, First-Year Experience staff, individuals across campus who instruct HU each year and our students who serve as peer mentors.”

The First-Year Experience class was introduced as a part of the 2019 Texas A&M Student Success Initiative. At the program’s outset, some 25% of incoming freshmen were enrolled in the initial Hullabaloo U courses.

“About 48,750 students have been enrolled in a Hullabaloo U class since the pilot year,” said Meredith Malnar, director for First-Year Experience with the Office for Student Success. “Tremendous effort was required to build capacity and develop processes to ensure all new first-year students can enroll in a Hullabaloo U course.”

Proven Benefits

The curriculum and format of Hullabaloo U are designed to ease the transition to Texas A&M and equip first-year students to achieve academic and personal goals, take advantage of campus resources and develop community and a sense of belonging.

“Through Hullabaloo U, students are connected to a faculty or staff instructor committed to their individual success, a student peer mentor to help them navigate the college experience and a small community of other first-year students,” Malnar said.

Studies conducted by Dr. Rajeeb Das, a senior data scientist in the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Evaluation, indicate that Hullabaloo U courses are already yielding positive effects on students’ academic performance.

“Statistically significant findings show a higher second fall term GPA for Hullabaloo U participants, higher second fall term retention for Hullabaloo U participants and a greater willingness to ask for help when needed for Hullabaloo U participants,” Malnar said.

Halle Hagdorn ’24 — who took a Hullabaloo U course during the fall of 2020 — is one student reaping the benefits.

“Hullabaloo U bridged the gap between my small-town background and large university environment,” Hagdorn said. “The class encouraged me to pursue my goals while teaching important skills like time management techniques and study skills.”

As a senior and tutor at the Academic Success Center, Hagdorn reflects on how Hullabaloo U —especially the “Dear Aggie Ring” assignment where she envisioned earning her Aggie Ring —helped her visualize her academic journey and achieve personal goals.

“Writing down my goals provided direction for the path ahead,” Hagdorn said. “The emotions felt upon reading the letter after receiving my Aggie Ring brought me to tears. It showed me how far I had come, and I couldn’t have done it with Hullabaloo U.”

the Aug. 30 student group at Hullabaloo U: Sea Camp Experience
Students at Hullabaloo U: Sea Camp Experience on Aug. 30 at the Galveston campus

Texas A&M University Office for Student Success


Student Success And…Sharks?

Hullabaloo U serves first-year Aggies in College Station, Galveston, McAllen and Qatar. On August 30, Texas A&M-Galveston students enrolled in Hullabaloo U: Sea Camp Experience began learning about academic success strategies while participating in a shark dissection.

“Students not only got an intro to the ecological importance of sharks, but they also learned respectful, responsible and ethical ways to use dissection in science,” said Dr. Daisy Dailey, the director of educational outreach at Texas A&M-Galveston. “Providing a hands-on activity of this magnitude early in their college careers results in authentic and meaningful interaction.”

The Hullabaloo U class — led by Dailey, Sea Camp program coordinator Lorena Elser and Peer Mentor Natalie Mecklenburg — helps students transition to college by combining the social benefit of camp with hands-on science.

“I want students to be motivated to connect science and the ocean to their daily lives, no matter what they are majoring in,” Dailey said. “Hopefully, this leads to academic success.”

Media contact: Robyn Blackmon,

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