You’ve Misjudged FIU’s Common Reading Program and So Have I

“App Kid” by Micheal Sayman is the chosen book for the Class of 2026. Dioslyn Oliva/ PantherNOW

Dioslyn Oliva/ Contributing Writer

FIU freshmen are introduced to the Common Reading Program and while most of us roll our eyes at the thought of it, it helps students learn skills and gain experiences that will help us here at FIU and beyond.

The FIU Academic and Career Success network explains that this program is an effort for students to “share intellectual points of engagement for first-year students and create a sense of community.”

When I heard that I had to read a book before my First Year Experience class, I was annoyed. In my defense, I dreaded doing any work during my 3-week summer vacation.

Mind you, I had no clue what this class was about, but a mini-investigation of my own changed my judgment.

“App Kid” by Micheal Sayman is this year’s chosen book by FIU. Sayman is a technology engineer that starts his career after coding his first app as an early teen. In his book, he gives his readers details and perspectives based on his experiences in the world of technology and social media. 

Since he is a first-generation American student and part of Gen-Z, his story shares common experiences with the demographic of the freshman class at FIU. The book covers themes such as time management, mental health and financial struggles among others, that work smoothly with the objective of the program.

At first, this seemed like just another time-consuming program. But after a while, it became so much more — at least to me. 

After better understanding the program, I value it because it’s clearly there for the benefit of students. The use of the program implemented in the classroom allows students to begin to build a foundation as future professionals in this 21st century.

The concept of the program is pretty simple to understand; First-year students can connect with each other through a book.

In a school with such a big population, it’s a valuable component to create a sense of community with incoming students. We’re all uniquely different, which makes our student community so special and diverse. But, it can also make it hard to connect with others. 

The program comes together in the classroom and it’s implemented perfectly. I noticed on my first day that in a room full of strangers, the only thing we all had in common was that we all read “App Kid.” 

I appreciate the program because it helps us develop 21st Century skills, better known as the “Four C’s”, which are communication, creativity, collaboration and critical thinking.

The program is cherished as it’s been implemented in universities and colleges all over the country. For example, Penn State University uses the program to weigh the substantial benefits, such as how the program creates a “cross-curricular integration of skill building activities.”

I’ve seen them being implemented in my first year at FIU too. My professor uses the book in order to get us, students, to communicate with one another about the themes in the book, relating to certain topics. One theme that our professor presented to us was about stress levels and how they affected the author’s mental health. 

By using this exercise, we discovered that we’re able to get assistance for our troubles at the Student Health Center available at both campuses. The center offers Counseling and Psychological Services that are covered by the health fee built into our tuition. Now, my classmates and I know where to direct ourselves if we’re ever in need.

This is important information for every student at FIU, but it’s especially important to us freshmen. Some of us may have a more difficult time transitioning into college so it’s nice knowing that there’s someone to hear us out and give us advice. 

Talking about the author’s mental health opened a conversation amongst ourselves, encouraging us to be open and honest with our struggles and discuss their importance to our overall being. Through this conversation, we learned to listen to one another and put effort into understanding our varying points of view.

Through these practices and activities, students build critical thinking skills that will assist them not only in their classrooms at FIU but in the workforce. After this experience, I can only think about other programs offered by FIU that are misjudged but are also there to help us.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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