First-Year Seminars: Gateway to Success at Carolina

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The First Year Seminars Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers innovative, inventive and one-of-a-kind classes designed to help incoming students make the transition from high school to a global research university.

First-year students have the option to explore diverse topics and delve into hands-on research, which can range from traveling to farmer’s markets to study the effects of globalization to a trek to the mountains of California to collect geological data. In small classes, students build lasting relationships with some of Carolina’s top professors as well as their fellow classmates, discussing and analyzing complex issues.

“It doesn’t get more active than that, I don’t think, than when you’re actually in the field with the faculty member, learning as they learn,” said Drew Coleman, assistant dean for the First Year Seminars Program, which is in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Some students are drawn to first-year seminars that align with their intended majors or known interests, but Coleman suggests that it is better to take the opportunity to tackle something unfamiliar.

Dana Salmon, linguistics major, took English professor Bill Andrews’s course, “Slavery, Literature and Film.”

“I think that’s the beauty of first-year seminars, that they’re super specific,” said Salmon. “It’s a great way to get into a field that maybe you wouldn’t really have the opportunity to explore later when you’re further into your major.”

More than two-thirds of Carolina students take at least one first-year seminar, and that number is expected to grow, said Coleman.

Story and video by Kristen Chavez ’13