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About First Year

Purpose & Goals

The First-Year Program coordinates academic and co-curricular programs and services for first-year students, including First-Year Seminar courses, academic advising, academic and adjustment counseling, and the summer orientation programs, among others. The office maintains a close and collaborative relationship with the Academic Support & Enrichment Center and faculty advisors of first-year students.

During the year the Dean of First-Year Students is available to meet with students on a wide range of issues, including academic performance, housing issues, personal adjustment problems, and other matters of concern.

The First-Year Program is designed to achieve a number of goals:

  • Providing courses exclusively for first-year students in an environment that encourages active participation in the learning process; enhancing student writing skills by making writing a significant element in every seminar; strengthening abilities of students to read and think critically, to express themselves cogently, and to use library resources effectively; generating intellectual excitement through sustained engagement with a chosen topic.
  • Each student is required to take two seminars during the first year. These courses can be taken in any order or simultaneously. One must be First-Year Seminar 101 which has the teaching of writing as its primary focus. While faculty organize these courses around particular themes, they require numerous writing assignments and revisions along with instruction in the process of writing. The second requirement is met by First-Year Seminar 102, one of the topical seminars in which frequent writing assignments are evaluated for style as well as content. Most of the FYS 102 seminars fulfill a General Education requirement.
First-Year Seminars

First-year seminars introduce entering students to the rigors and rewards of college courses in the liberal arts. Limited to a maximum of eighteen students, each seminar offers students the opportunity to explore a particular issue, interest or problem in depth and to develop or refine critical academic skills and the habits of mind necessary for success in college. These smaller classes allow for substantial dialogue between teacher and students, student-to-student interaction, and experimentation with teaching/learning methods.

  • First-Year Seminar 101, Words and Ideas – Each seminar addresses an engaging subject and has, as a primary goal, developing the reading and writing abilities of entering students. Attention is given to the coherent process of careful reading, critical reasoning, and effective writing. FYS 101 fulfills the writing requirement. Some recent FYS 101 seminars have had the following topical emphases: Defining the World, Defining Ourselves; Popular Words and Cultural Ideas; Education in the Community: Theory and Practice; Reading Popular Culture; Classic Women Authors. 4 credits.
  • First-Year Seminar 102 – Topical seminars offered on a variety of subjects by faculty from all divisions of the college. Examples of recent seminars are: Faith in a Secular Age; Moral Quandaries at the Beginning of Life; Different Voices: Outsiders in Pre-Industrial Europe; Moons, Madness, and Methodology; The Sociocultural Study of Popular Music, Second-hand Lives: Images and Realities of Poverty and Hunger in American Life; The Slavery Controversy in America, 1830-1860; Borders of the Human: Animals, Technology, and other Incursions; South Africa: the Long Walk to Freedom; Aesthetic Inquiry and Imagination: Performance and Theories of the Beautiful. 4 credits.