The First-Year Program Overview

This page contains information about the First-Year Program at St. Lawrence meant especially for new first-year students. You can find more information about the program by visiting the First-Year Program website.

FYP Courses
One important component of your first year at St. Lawrence will be your First-Year Program (FYP) in the fall and your First-Year Seminar (FYS) in the spring. The entire First-Year Program (including FYP and FYS) is overseen by the associate dean of the first year, a senior faculty member with experience teaching in the program.

In the fall, FYP courses introduce you to critical issues and questions that humans face. Each course approaches these issues or questions from at least two disciplinary perspectives. Every FYP course strives to do the following:

  • introduce you to a liberal arts education;
  • feature an interdisciplinary approach to its theme or topic;
  • help you develop reading, writing, oral communication and research skills;
  • assist you in building a living-learning community with the other students in your course.

FYP courses also tend to stress engaged learning, in which you are expected to take an active and responsible role in your education both in and out of the classroom.  Some FYPs require that students participate in community service as part of the course.

Your FYP course will count as the equivalent of 1.5 courses, and it is one of the three or four courses you will take in the fall semester.

Placement in Your FYP Course
You will be placed in your FYP based on the FYP Preference form. Read carefully all of the FYP Course Descriptions, which describe the FYP courses being offered this fall, then complete the FYP Course Preference form that asks you to indicate at least four top choices.  Be sure to complete this form carefully--looking at the descriptions not just the course titles--and to submit it by the deadline.  You will be notified of your FYP placement no later than mid-July.

FYP Residential Colleges
All of your classmates in your FYP course will live together in an area of a residence hall. At St. Lawrence, we call these living-learning units “residential colleges.” Most colleges have about 34 students with two faculty instructors; some have about 50 students with three faculty instructors, and some have 15-17 students with one instructor and other guest collaborators.

We have found that students who both live together and take a common course together are more comfortable participating in class discussions and find it easier to create productive and friendly relationships with faculty and staff. Linking course sections with specific residences in living-learning communities also means that you can integrate many of the course experiences with your social and community relationships.

You will live with two or three community assistants (CAs), who are upper-class students trained to be resources for any residential issues that might arise and for making the transition to college. The CAs and the other student life staff offer a full range of co-curricular programs in the residence that involve you, your faculty and the staff in learning experiences that take you well beyond the conventional limits of the classroom.

As part of living and learning in the FYP, you might find yourself working in the residence hall with your classmates on a group presentation for class, having a community discussion of issues facing first-year students, or enjoying a movie night with your FYP faculty.

In addition, we hope that you will use the FYP as a springboard to build significant connections to others at St. Lawrence by, for example, joining student organizations, participating in the numerous athletic opportunities available or standing for election to student government. Your CAs will be valuable resources in helping you to make these other connections.

FYP and Advising
One of the instructors for your FYP course will be your academic advisor. Your advisor will know you from the day you arrive and will know you as a whole person; therefore, he or she will quickly become a strong resource for you. You may also request a second advisor in your primary area of academic interest.

You may continue with your FYP advisor for your sophomore year or select a new one. When you declare a major, normally during the second semester of your sophomore year, you will choose an advisor who is affiliated with your major.

Because a satisfactory working relationship with your advisor is of paramount importance, and because at a liberal arts college students’ interests often change as they progress through their education, you may change advisors at any time after your first semester. The associate dean for academic advising programs, who is a faculty member, works closely with faculty, both those in the FYP and those in academic departments, to ensure that students get properly advised.

Spring Semester First-Year Seminars (FYS)
In the spring semester, you will choose a First-Year Seminar (FYS). Each FYS also counts as 1.5 courses, and each extends the communication skills portion of the FYP by focusing on research and critical inquiry in a seminar environment that emphasizes close student-faculty interaction. In addition to the FYS, you will also take three other courses in the spring. You will be provided with additional information about the FYS program in the fall semester.