Hamline News

August 26, 2011

Myth-busting, Mysteries, King Arthur & More! Fun Hamline First-Year Courses Prepare Students for Success.

Cool Fysems full

What do travelers' tales, the Wall Street Journal, Minnesota businesses, gaming, movies, and common sense have in common? Nothing. And, everything. They are all topics of  First-Year Seminars (FYSEMS), or courses offered exclusively to incoming first-year students, geared to help these new college students strengthen core academic skills and build a social group.

This year,  to meet the needs of Hamline's largest incoming class ever, the university is offering 28 different FYSEMS.

The courses cover a wide variety of academic topics. Some of the more unique FYSEMS this year include “Hamline MythBusters,” a physics course; “Catching Z-z-zs: the Mysteries of Sleep,” a biology class; and “King Arthur and the Axis of Evil,” a history course.   (Complete Listing)

Despite the varied topics, all of these courses focus on study skills-building.

"FYSEMS are designed to develop reading, writing, and critical thinking skills,” said associate College of Liberal Arts dean Michael Reynolds. “Regardless of their major, all first-year students will need these to be successful at Hamline.”

Some of the courses have additional goals in mind. Professor Andy Rundquist’s Mythbusters course is designed to help prepare students for in-depth research projects that they may choose to take on in their upperclassman years at Hamline.

“I really want to develop students' scientific design skills,” said professor Irina Makarevitch, a biology professor teaching a class on sleep.

Other FYSEMS include a brief study abroad experience, which, in addition to enriching the academic experience, are designed to encourage first-year students to consider studying abroad again later in their college career.

Though revamped each year and infused with a variety of new courses, the seminar program is not new to Hamline. In fact, Hamline was a pioneer in specialized courses for new students.

“Hamline has had first-year programs since the mid-1980s [which was unusual at the time],” said Reynolds. “Today, nearly all schools have some form of a first-year seminar.”

At Hamline, FYSEMS also pair each class with a member of the Hamline staff and an upperclassman student who can address questions about student life and help guide new students through their first semester in college. In addition to simply preparing students for academics, the courses help to provide an instant peer group, which in many cases leads to lasting friendships.