Undergraduate Programs

What is First Year Seminar?

First-year students walking through a parade with their peers cheering them on.

Each fall, first year students come to Clarkson and begin their transition from high school student to college student. And each fall, every first year student is enrolled in a class called First Year Seminar.

First-year students walking through a parade with their peers cheering them on.

My name is Olivia Netter, and I’m Clarkson Class of ’21. In my time at Clarkson I was a peer educator, master peer and student coordinator for First Year Seminar and wanted to share my knowledge and thoughts on the program!

First things first, First Year Seminar(FYS) is a one credit, pass/fail course that is required for all incoming first year students at Clarkson. The goal of FYS is to be a college transition course and to help first year students successfully become part of the Clarkson community.

I really enjoyed taking FYS when I first came to Clarkson. It taught me a lot of things about Clarkson’s campus that I used everyday as a student here. On top of the helpful tips I picked up, FYS was also a great way to meet and interact with people! There are about 60 people in a class, so you get to know lots of your fellow students right away. 

FYS was the course that kept me at Clarkson. I’m a first generation college student and was a little lost and 5 hours from home. I didn’t know what to expect and I was struggling but FYS brought me a sense of community and my peer educator ended up being my friend my entire time at Clarkson! 

I loved FYS because week-by-week they walked me through the resources on campus that I might not have known about otherwise and had someone checking in on me weekly, an upperclassman, and that really helped. They know the ropes, they have gone through the same things that you’ve gone through.

I liked being put at a table that I would have never known otherwise and getting to know them, working in a team setting where you have a peer educator there to help you learn how to work in a group and get advice before you have to start doing it more frequently in your other courses.  

I loved being a student coordinator because I could give my input on what is worth the time for students to do. This class gets better each year because we keep giving our perspective on what works and what doesn’t and improving. We really listen to the students and cover all aspects of college life including financial services. I applied for student loans but didn’t know the first thing about them. Having people come in and explain the process and what to come in the future was very helpful. 

First-year student parade into the IRC building

This class means a lot to certain people and that’s what makes it worth it. You get out of it what you put into it. I asked questions, I tried to make connections with people.

If you go in with the mentality that this is just another class, or thinking “this sucks,” you won’t be doing yourself any favors. It’s only one hour and 15 minutes a week but it can really impact your time at Clarkson if you let it. Ask questions, get involved, do the assignments. They’re all meant to help you, not to just be another thing on your to do list and there’s value in it. 

First-year student parade into the IRC building, their older peers are cheering them on

I kept in touch with my master peer and my CU connect mentor. They put me in contact with the resources I needed like the counseling center and student success series, where I met with an academic coach weekly for my first semester to keep me on track. 

The people I worked with showed me how to utilize the skills I had but didn’t know how to access in a college setting. 

I would have slipped through the cracks at another school. FYS was the first step that I needed to be comfortable at Clarkson and go on to do so many things! 

I was an E&M major and became involved in a ton of things on campus, like being an RA for 3 years. I also joined the dance team and served as president at one point, was involved in student government, and joined Theta Phi Alpha sorority where I held several leadership positions including president. I was even inducted into Phalanx before I left Clarkson!

I would not be the person I am today without FYS. The program gave me the confidence I needed to be a great student and leader on campus. It can do the same for you if you let it!


  1. My son will be attending Clarkson in the fall. We are very happy and excited for him. He is looking forward to it with a little anxiety. We have not been there for anything. I know that sounds crazy but true, no college visits, no tours. I know from your article that he will definitely benefit from this class. We are all looking forward to the adventure it’s going to be for him. He is really hoping to be on the golf team as a freshman. He is a very good golfer and does play almost every day. Thanks for sending this information. It was very helpful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *