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How to Choose a First Year Seminar

Guest Blogger: Anne Weitekamp ’18. PA NSO 2015. 

Welcome to the Cornell College class of 2019!!! Starting college is an exciting and slightly scary thing to do. With college comes many freedoms and opportunities you never knew to explore. The first month of college is a whirlwind, and new friends and activities are there for you to help make a smooth transition into being a college student. College also comes with the opportunity to finally start studying things that are truly interesting to you that you get to choose. The first class that you will take is a First-Year Seminar, or FYS. An FYS is designed so that you can begin to explore all that Cornell has to offer you. These courses are designed to be a bridge between high school and college. In your FYS, you will be introduced to academic support services like the Writing Studio and the Quantitative Reasoning Studio, campus resources accessible to all students. Your First-year Seminar is only the beginning of your journey as a Cornell Ram.

Although you may be excited to start classes that are in your intended major, I urge you to consider all of the FYS options equally. Don’t be afraid to try a class outside of your comfort zone. A liberal arts education is all about allowing students to explore many disciplines while still providing depth in a specific area.When I was choosing my FYS last year, I too was hesitant to stray far from my comfort zone. I really wanted to explore classes that weren’t in my intended major but I was scared that the people in those classes wouldn’t be my people. I eventually decided to take a risk and took a class that I was truly excited about. My FYS class was wonderful and it was because I was able to meet people who I wouldn’t normally talk to if I stayed inside my comfort zone. In the end, take a class that excites you and makes you excited to learn. A FYS is only 18 days and you can do anything in 18 days!
–Anne ‘18

Like Anne said, an FYS is designed to be a transition from high school to college and with it, the Block Plan! It is a great time to try out a topic you are interested in, even if it’s off the academic path you think you want to follow. One of the great things about the block plan is to be truly immersed for 18 days, and for your FYS, being excited is the only prerequisite!
While it was in a department I never took another course with, my FYS with Anthropology introduced me to the block plan, Cornell academics, college level research, and the resources available on campus for support.

Class of 2019: Remember to choose your First Year Seminar preference! Access the form through your admitted student checklist or contact Ian Ely-Cate at       A course list and descriptions of the FYS options can be found here.

Honestly, looking at these offerings and amazing professors instructing them, I’m quite jealous and wondering if I can start again with the amazing FYS and Cornell experience! They all look like amazing courses.