First-year seminars (FYS)

The FYS is a distinctively Wesleyan approach to first-year college writing. Instead of a skills-based course in composition, the FYS offers an immersion in a particular subject. Students dive into a field of study and its ways of asking questions, discovering new knowledge, and making arguments. FYS courses are exhilarating introductions to liberal learning.

Each year, faculty across campus offer about 55 first-year seminars in fields ranging from contemporary politics to neuroscience; from existentialism to pattern formation in nature; from computational logic to love, sex, and marriage in Renaissance Europe—and everything in between. This year’s courses can be found by clicking on the First Year Seminars box in a WesMaps search.

About 85% of students take a first-year seminar. Lots of them visit the Writing Workshop, where they meet individually with trained peer tutors to discuss all aspects of the writing process, work on drafts, and build confidence as writers. And in 2021 about a quarter of all FYS students submitted an essay in Shapiro's FYS Writing Prize competition.

The Shapiro Center also hosts the First Year Writer’s Series, a program of hands-on practice sessions with Academic Writing faculty and Workshop tutors. 

Whatever their particular topic, all first-year seminars offer students opportunities to experiment and grow as writers. A description of the format of FYS classes is included in the university’s discussion of the Academic Journey.