About the First-Year Program

Two important components of your first year at St. Lawrence are your First-Year Program (FYP) course in the fall and your First-Year Seminar (FYS) in the spring, required of all incoming students. 

FYP Courses

In the fall, you'll join one of our FYP residential colleges, living-learning communities where you and your classmates in your FYP course will share residential living space while exploring big ideas together in the classroom. Every FYP course strives to do the following:

  • introduce you to a liberal arts education;
  • help you plan your academic path through conversations with your FYP instructor, who serves as your academic advisor;
  • feature an interdisciplinary approach to its theme or topic;
  • enhance your critical thinking, reading, and listening skills;
  • further develop your writing, oral communication, and research skills; and
  • build strong ties with other students in your FYP residential college.

FYP courses emphasize engaged learning, so expect to take an active role both in and out of the classroom. Your FYP course is the equivalent of 1.5 units (a standard course is 1 unit), and counts as one of the four courses (for a total of 4.5 units) you will take in the fall semester.

FYP Residential Colleges
You and your classmates in your FYP course will live together in what we at St. Lawrence call a “residential college.” Each college will have approximately 16 students per faculty instructor. Some FYPs are team-taught by two instructors, while others are solo-taught by one instructor, but each college has approximately 16 students for each faculty instructor. 

Our residential colleges are designed for your success. Students who both live together and take a common course together are more comfortable participating in class discussions, find it easier to create productive and friendly relationships with faculty and staff, and can carry conversations from class into the residence hall to integrate the academic and social experience. 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.

You will live with one or two student community assistants (CAs), sophomores, juniors and seniors 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 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. In addition your CA can be a valuable resource connecting you to student organizations and clubs.

The instructor for your FYP course will be your academic advisor until you declare a major, usually in the spring of your sophomore year. Your advisor will try to get to know you as a whole person in order to help you plan your academic path and find the courses that are right for you. In addition, they can direct you to opportunities like study abroad and career planning.

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 We encourage first year students to build a network of advisors and mentors, so you can ask any faculty member with whom you connect in your first year to serve as an additional advisor.

First-Year Seminars 
When you register for your spring courses, you will choose a First-Year Seminar (FYS). Each FYS also counts as 1.5 units (a standard course is 1 unit). FYS courses extend the communication skills portion of the FYP by focusing on research and critical inquiry in a seminar environment that emphasizes close student-faculty interaction. Your FYP instructor will share the course descriptions with you during the advising period before fall course registration. 

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.