August 01, 2013

Diverse First-Year Courses Prepare New Students

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Harry Potter, European history and culture, the Hunger Games, human rights, and Dungeons and Dragons are just a few of the topics first-year students will explore this fall when they sign up for their First Year Seminars (FYSEMs). These introductory courses are offered to first-year students in order to ensure a smooth transition into college life through the building of academic skills and social networks. This year, Hamline is offering 32 FYSEMs on varying topics in order to give students a diverse pool of options.

“The variety of FYSEMs is meant to provide a broad swath of choices for the incoming class and to demonstrate that one can learn a lot by picking apart just about any subject matter,” Marcela Kostihova, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and director of the FYSEM program, said.

Some of the classes include: The Wall Street Journal: It’s Much More than Money, which dives in depth on the newspapers evolution in both print and web, and The Enemy Within: Cancer and its Controversies, which looks to answer some of the big questions about cancer.

Other seminar topic areas include engineering, leadership, the sciences, health, religion, international issues, politics, and art, to name just a few.

“Students come to Hamline with a wide-variety of intellectual interests, and an overwhelming majority look for a meaningful intellectual experience,” Kostihova said, “Since FYSEMs are not part of any particular major, students are free to choose solely on the topic.”

FYSEM courses may feature different topics, but they are all geared toward preparing first-year students for college in addition to developing strong study skills and good academic practices.

“Each FYSEM has several integral components. The core is a rigorous academic seminar on a subject devised by the professor,” Kostihova said. “In addition, the FYSEM has professional development components: Sessions on graduation requirements, study skills, and campus resources.”

In addition to the support the faculty member provides for the new students, a Hamline staff member and a current student are attached to each FYSEM. All are available as resources and guides for the new students first semester at college. Between the faculty, staff, new student mentor, and a close knit group of peers, FYSEMs offer the ability to develop strong connections and relationships for the future.

The FYSem learning goals are to provide an introduction to the liberal arts and Hamline’s academic and student services resources, to prepare students for college academics, to enhance a sense of community, and to assist students in personal development.

“Expect to be challenged. Expect to learn in ways you have not learned before,” Kostihova said. “Expect to find an intellectually voracious community among your peers, many of whom will become your best friends. Expect to grow.”