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
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
“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