In addition to three other courses drawn from the university curriculum, students in their first semester enroll in a combined academic and residential program that emphasizes critical thinking and active student participation in both the classroom and the residence, called the First-Year Program (FYP). The FYP consists of four parts:
1. An interdisciplinary, often team-taught course focused on either contemporary issues or enduring questions.
2. An emphasis on communications skills, in particular writing, speaking, attentive reading, and research and information literacy.
3. An advising system that ensures systematic and supportive involvement of FYP faculty, Orientation Leaders, Residential Coordinators, Community Assistants, Athletic staff, Academic Advising staff, and Career Services staff.
4. A residential college system wherein each first-year residence houses students enrolled in the same section of the FYP course, with the goal of developing integrated living and learning communities. All residential colleges are on the St. Lawrence campus, with the exception of the London FYP, first introduced in the fall of 2012, which has some different parameters from the on-campus experience while still meeting the learning goals of the FYP.
The FYP (fall semester) functions as an introductory writing and speaking course, while the FYS (spring semester) continues the development of these skills but also focuses more intensively than the fall course on research skills.
In the summer before matriculation, students review descriptions of the FYP courses for that fall and indicate those they find most interesting; they are enrolled in one of the several sections of the FYP course (FRPG 10XX) based on those interests. Each section corresponds to a residential college, and each student has one of the FYP faculty members as his or her advisor. Each FYP course explores a distinct set of themes or issues, but all focus on the breadth of the liberal arts and encourage student participation, collaborative intellectual experiences, self-expression, and critical thinking. The fall semester course follows an elaborate writing skills sequence that stresses writing as a process, short essays, and revision, as well as an introduction to the integration of research into the writing process. The fall course also involves formal instruction in oral communication.
The FYP faculty also work with student life staff to plan co-curricular programs related to the course themes and to encourage students to take advantage of the full schedule of University social and intellectual activities. The residents, the residential staff, and the faculty work together to design programs and encourage maximum student involvement in the life of the residential college.
In addition to encouraging students to participate in their own colleges, the First-Year Council, composed of two student representatives from each of the colleges, provides an opportunity for students to develop leadership skills, participate in University governance, address issues of concern to first-year students, and plan social events for the entire first-year class.
In the second semester of the first year, students continue to develop their research, writing, and oral communication skills in one of approximately 40 research-oriented First-Year Seminars (FYS). Students register for the First-Year Seminar as part of the regular registration process through APR2. In the spring course, the writing and speaking development emphasis is supplemented by a more sustained emphasis on research skills and more explicit instruction in research.
Although the spring FYS does not integrate living and learning in the same way as the fall (because each FYS includes students from multiple FYP colleges), student life staff and faculty continue to work with the residential communities to facilitate both the continued development of these communities and the transition to upper-class residential life. The First-Year Council also continues to plan events for all first-year students.
Because of the importance of the FYP and FYS in preparing students for success at St. Lawrence and beyond, withdrawal from those courses is not permitted, nor may FYP and FYS courses be taken on a Pass/Fail basis. Students who fail the FYP in the fall must complete alternative coursework to be determined on a case-by-case basis by the associate dean of the first year and the associate dean for academic advising programs in consultation with the director of the Munn Center for Rhetoric and Communication. Students who fail the FYS must retake the FYS in their sophomore year.
FYP courses do not count for department, program, or distribution/diversity credit. FYS courses may count for department, program, or distribution/diversity credit.