How do students benefit from a First-Year Seminar?
Many first-year students arrive on campus feeling overwhelmed and lost. You might be one of those students. Or you might feel perfectly at home, and yet still be enrolled in many large lectures that make UMass feel way too big. First-Year Seminars help both types of students. With so many topics available, you can try out a new subject at an easy level. Plus, the size of the course means that you have another support group on campus. Studies (such as this one and this one) show that, on average, students at colleges with first-year seminars tend to make a smoother transition to college than at campuses where seminars are not available.
But which First-Year Seminar should I take?
Many students choose to take a seminar that aligns with their major field of study. (And Isenberg Business School students and Marieb Nursing College students have their own seminar programs required for their own students.) But many other students use a seminar to explore a new field of interest. Alternately, some opt to take Faculty First-Year Seminar. These cross-disciplinary seminars are specially designed to draw students and faculty from all fields of study. The choice is yours.
Do the seminars require a ton of work?
As with all college courses, First Year Seminars involve reading, some writing, and maybe even research. But remember, these courses count for only one credit. This means they entail no more than one to two hours of work per week outside of class. Also, keep in mind that instructors know students might be coming to their field for the first time. They will not assume any previous knowledge of the material they cover.
Are the seminars graded?
Most seminars are graded, although a few instructors evaluate students on a Pass/Fail basis.
If they are graded, does this mean that First-Year Seminars count toward graduation?
Yes, that’s right! But they do not count as part of your major or general education requirements.
How often do the seminars meet?
Seminars meet once each week for 50 minutes.
What counts as a First-Year Seminar?
First: the First-Year Seminars (taught by faculty or graduate students) count. The Honors College has its own low-enrollment seminars that help students adjust to college life, and students in this college should enroll in one of those sections. As noted above, the Isenberg School of Business “Transitions” series and the Nursing Program’s “Nursing Seminar'' are those schools’ versions of the FYS program. Finally, students who enroll in a Residential Academic Program (or RAP) sometimes have a FYS attached to it.
May I take more than one First Year Seminar?
Not at this time. For now, the University offers only one of these small, targeted courses for each new student.
How do I register for a First Year Seminar?
That’s easy! Just like any other course. You can work with an advisor to sort through your options. If you want to get a sense of your options, scroll through the “First Year Seminars” and the cross-disciplinary “Faculty First-Year Seminars” in Spire, which appear as drop-down subjects, or you can search for them under “Class Attributes.”