Students taking class outside

First-Year Program

Part academic and part residential, your First-Year Program (FYP) is a built-in web of support from the moment you step on campus and through your entire first year.

A Community from Day One

As one of the oldest living/learning programs for first-year students in the country, the FYP is designed to strengthen the speaking, writing, and research skills you’ll need to find academic success in college while providing support as you begin exploring your interests beyond the classroom.

Three students contemplate a piece of art in a gallery.

Living and Learning Together

The FYP is where faculty and staff from across campus come together to support your transition to college life as you carve out your place at St. Lawrence. From the faculty members teaching your class, to the Community Assistants in your residence hall, to coaches, career counselors, librarians, and more, the FYP is a true network of support with your academic and co-curricular potential at its center. 

First Semester

During your first semester, you will live alongside classmates in your First-Year Program, making it much easier to collaborate and learn together as you embark on your FYP, an interdisciplinary, often team-taught, course that focuses on a topic of broad interest and is one of the four courses that first-year students take in the fall.  

A group of students sit cross-legged on the grass while working on a painting project.

Second Semester

Your second semester at St. Lawrence will include a First-Year Seminar, which is often a smaller class size and brings you together with a different group of students, likely many from outside your FYP.  First-Year Seminars (FYS) strive to continue the communication skills, critical thinking, ethical reflection, and liberal learning goals of the FYP courses but with a specific focus on critical inquiry and research. Each of you will engage in an in-depth research project over the course of the semester. 

Explore the First-Year Program

Your first year is a time to discover all that your St. Lawrence experience can be, and the possibilities are endless. Here are just a few of the resources that will help you along the way.

We know that you’ll bring a solid foundation of writing and communication skills with you when you arrive at St. Lawrence. Our goal is to hone and strengthen them to prepare you for the expectations of your majors or minors, no matter what you choose to pursue. Assignments in the FYP are designed to build your confidence conducting research, forming an argument, communicating your ideas in writing, and delivering an oral presentation at the collegiate level. 

The work you do in the classroom will help to build bonds in your residence hall and beyond. You and your classmates all chose to take the same course, which means you already have a common interest. You’ll explore that interest (and learn more about one another in the process) as you collaborate on projects, ask one another questions about assignments, attend readings or discussions together, or simply grab lunch after class ends every Monday and Wednesday afternoon.  

As your FYP instructors will get to know you as a student and as a person throughout your first semester, they’ll help you begin to map out a path for your time at St. Lawrence. Whether you already have an idea of what you’d like to study or aren’t sure yet, they’ll help you choose classes that help you explore possibilities and align with your interests.

They’ll also show you how you can incorporate opportunities like off-campus study, career mentoring, or research into your academic and co-curricular journey. They invest in your holistic experience as a student at St. Lawrence.

What some call “Resident Assistants” we call “Community Assistants.” CAs live in your residence hall and help to foster a community among your FYP through intermittent activities or simply by being there to answer questions about campus life.

With plenty of innovative and imaginative program offerings available, you’re bound to find something that sparks your curiosity and makes you excited to dive into your academic experience at St. Lawrence. Some involve Community-Based Learning components or opportunities for short off-campus trips, and one even takes place abroad in London. 

Community-Based Learning (CBL) at St. Lawrence gives you the chance to combine civic engagement with coursework, critical thinking, and reflection in a reciprocal relationship that benefits you, our community partners, and our professors. Several First-Year Programs and Seminars have a CBL component.

First-Year Program Details


The year St. Lawrence's well-known First-Year Program was founded

Recent First-Year Programs

  • African Myth and Reality 
  • Beyond Recreation: Environmental Stewardship for the Outdoor Enthusiast
  • Rebels, Hipsters, and Visionaries: The Beat Generation and Beyond
  • Identity and Belonging in the St. Lawrence Valley
  • Markets and Morality: The Ethical and Philosophical Dimensions of Business and Economics
  • Untangling Quantum Computing

Recent First-Year Seminars

  • What Does It Mean to Be Educated? 
  • “Ain’t Nuthing to F’ Wit”: Global Hip Hop and Social Change
  • Neuroscience of Stress
  • Speak Up: Rhetoric and Public Speaking 
  • The Good Place and the Good Life
  • Psychology of Hidden Bias

A Saint Lawrence student works on an art project with a child at the children's museum.

FYP's in the Community

Some First-Year Programs and Seminars involve a Community-Based Learning component, giving you the opportunity to engage with our North Country neighbors, experience regional culture, and investigate global issues in a local context.



Every year, the First-Year Programs compete against one another for the FYP Cup. Beginning your first few days on campus, events include lawn games, trivia, a banner-designing competition, and a song competition.

Student presenting to people on their research

Research Exchange

You will have the opportunity to present your research and findings during your first year at St. Lawrence. Each spring the University hosts Festival Day, a Friday without classes where the campus community comes together to celebrate students’ academic successes. First-year students present their FYS research projects during the FYS Research Exchange.

Learn About Research

Connect With Us