SELECTING A FYS
FYS are not required courses, yet they offer an exciting opportunity for high quality learning, and they open the door to active participation in intellectual life at UNC. Many students select an FYS by scanning the list of FYS to find one that is most directly relevant to their interests, but from some perspectives, this strategy is a big mistake. Given that most students major in the topic that they are most interested in, they will eventually enroll in many advanced courses on that particular topic. From this perspective, the FYS can be seen as a snack drawn from the meal to come.
An alternative strategy is to use the FYS as an opportunity to explore a topic that is totally new, unfamiliar, and highly unlikely to be included in subsequent semesters. For example, a FYS provides a unique opportunity for a humanist to get up close and personal with science, a scientist to explore the humanities, a history major to see what a mathematician does for a living, or a physicist to read some poetry. Not only does this experience expand the mind, but also, it can introduce the student to a major that is surprisingly attractive. Finally, most FYS meet one or more General Education requirements.
FYS registration is tricky business because we have enough seats each year to accommodate approximately 66% of our incoming class. A student who attempts FYS registration with only a single target seminar in mind has a high probability of coming up empty. A strategy that is more likely to be successful is to identify a dozen FYS that would be of interest and put them in the “shopping cart”. When on-line registration is available, continue to monitor the list daily because we do not have FYS waiting lists. Another strategy is to use the on-line “Search for Classes” system. Set your criteria to search for course numbers “less than or equal to 89”. Course evaluation feedback indicates that students have extremely positive experiences in our FYS. From this perspective, enrolling in any FYS is a better alternative than enrolling in no FYS!
Photo by Dan Sears, UNC-Chapel Hill