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First-Year Courses

The first-year course: A seminar for first-year students

During their first semester all first-year students take one course designated as a First-Year Course. Each course is limited to 16 incoming students and is taught in seminar style by a faculty member who becomes the advisor for each of the students. This means new students have immediate access to their advisor for academic and other questions and that their advisor will know them.

Most First-Year Courses pay particular attention to writing and library research to ensure all students are introduced to Macalester’s high academic expectations for these skills. Many of these courses are regular department offerings that have been tailored to the needs of incoming students. Those courses meet requirements for a major in that department and serve as prerequisites to more advanced courses.

Some First-Year Courses are designated as residential courses. Students who enroll in one of these courses live near one another in the same residence hall, usually on the same floor. This facilitates discussion and group work outside of the classroom. Many courses also utilize student writing preceptors to provide additional writing support and peer mentoring.

During the last week of May, an online Registration Guide is made available to incoming students. Included in the Registration Guide are descriptions of the First-Year Courses being offered that year as well as information about choosing the other three courses to be taken in the first semester. Students select and are registered in their courses during the summer, although changes may be made during Orientation, which immediately precedes the beginning of the semester.