Learn More

Chemistry Professor Nancy Kolodny on her first-year seminar offering: The Nuclear Challenge.

Yes, you might just "learn more" in a first-year seminar.

But here's where you can learn more about the first-year seminars.

Seminar Size

Class size is limited—that is to say, small. With a maximum of 15 students per seminar, the focus is on active, collaborative, and creative learning.

First-Years Only

As an introduction to more advanced scholarship, the first-year seminar is both challenging and comforting. There's no hiding in an anonymous lecture, but there's also no feeling intimidated by more experienced college students. Learning from one another is as important as learning with one another.

“Through a first year seminar, first-year students can have much more intellectual focus and attention. First-year seminar can be a great guidance in academic skills that are required for college students," reported one student. And another added, "I enjoy having a class with only first-years; it is making the transition to college easier."

Discussions and Projects

Small classes that are discussion- or project-based mean you'll work very closely with the professors. You'll also get to know your fellow students with a unique and deep connection. As one student said, "Everyone in the class is in the same boat as you, and the small class environment allows for intellectual discussion and a more intimate learning environment. It's a great way to get to know at least one professor well.”

Topics

Courses may fulfill specific distribution and/or major requirements, but we encourage you to think outside the major. Most students choose seminars because the topic interests them or it's a way to explore an  area they hadn't considered before. The topics offered are wide-ranging but specific, from Extrasolar Planet Research with Laboratory to Fairy Tales and Children's Lit: The Cultural Legacy of the Brothers Grimm.

Hello from Tom Burke, director of Wellesley's First-Year Seminar Program, from Orientation 2011

Shadow Grading

 

Learn more about Wellesley's liberating first semester grading policy.

 

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Goals for the First-Year Seminar Program
1. Shape student expectations of the values, rigor, aspirations and rewards of the intellectual enterprise practiced in a vibrant and supportive academic community.
2. Foster skills and habits of mind essential for intellectual inquiry.
3. Build a sense of intellectual and social community among students from diverse backgrounds in a cooperative and collaborative learning environment.
4. Create opportunities early in a student’s college career for close interaction with faculty and for the individualized instruction typical of a liberal arts education.
5. Demonstrate how knowledge is constructed in a particular field.