During fall and winter terms, first-year students take required courses titled First-Year Seminar (fall term) and First-Year Research Seminar (winter term). Building on the skills gained in August term, first-year seminar courses continue to introduce students to the kinds of rigorous intellectual work necessary at the college level.
Professors from all disciplines teach the courses, and the small class size encourages close student-professor interaction. Students are also introduced to the campus Writing Center, where they can get instruction and guidance to help them adjust to college-level writing.
During the fall term, students read a broad range of shorter essays and at least one longer, book-length text of the instructor’s choosing. They may also view films and documentaries, attend campus lectures and gallery shows, and participate in selected community events.
These experiences form the basis for seminar discussion and provide the materials from which students write three pieces of formal academic prose: an analytical summary, a text-based argument/response, and an argumentative essay based on class themes.
In the winter term, the topical seminars include extensive instruction in research methods appropriate at the college level. A series of related assignments—a topic analysis, an annotated bibliography, a strategic plan, and a class presentation—culminate with the production of a piece of original scholarship: a substantive, well-informed argumentative essay of approximately 15 pages.
The First-Year Seminar Program focuses on:
Developing clear and effective writing on substantial topical and enduring issues
Fostering critical and balanced reading of complex and challenging texts
Encouraging rigorous, critical, open-minded, and sustained discussion of issues flowing from students' reading and writing
Honing the research skills necessary to produce well-informed and original scholarship
Questions? Contact Martha Billips, professor of English and associate dean of the college for first-year academic programs and advising.