First-Year Seminar Information for Incoming Students

In this section you will find information outlining the First-Year Seminar program and a listing of the First-Year Seminars planned for the upcoming semester. The First-Year Seminar program offers focused, challenging seminars in a wide range of vital topics representing the scholarly endeavors of our faculty. These small seminars serve to draw new students into the academic life of Dickinson, encouraging you to begin building an intellectual community and introducing you to Dickinson’s high standards for scholarly inquiry.

Class meeting in library

About the First-Year Seminar Program

The academic cornerstone of your first semester will be your First-Year Seminar. Taught by the professor who will be your academic advisor, this class is designed to help you develop habits of mind that are essential to liberal learning, including critical thinking, analytical writing, and information literacy skills. The First-Year Seminar program at Dickinson, more than 25 years old, was one of the first in the country to establish this kind of intensive format for instilling the capacity for critical inquiry—the foundation of a liberal education.

Combining writing, research and active discussion among small groups of first-year students, and led by faculty from all disciplines, these seminars are a microcosm of the Dickinson experience.

The professor who teaches your First-Year Seminar also serves as your principal academic advisor for the first two years at Dickinson, or until you choose a major and receive an advisor in your chosen field. A good academic advisor can guide you in creating a program of study that is challenging and rewarding, and can help you learn how to navigate your own course through college as an independent member of the academic community.

Choosing your First-Year Seminar

We encourage you to take the time to read and review all seminar choices before ranking your five options. A list and description of each seminar can be found on the First-Year Seminar List and Descriptions page. Please rank five courses. One of your choices will be assigned to you, provided that you complete the online form by June 1. Please read all of the seminar descriptions and choose very carefully, as changes cannot be made at a later date.

Completing your First-Year Seminar Request Form

To complete your First-Year Seminar Request Form, go to the Dickinson Gateway. (Your Gateway user name and password were provided via your application status page.) Once you are in the Gateway, select the Student Forms tab to see all of your forms. Click on the Seminar Selection link from the menu to make your seminar choices. Complete the form and click "submit" when finished.

Additional First-Year Seminar Information

We are frequently asked about the relationship between the student’s intended major and the First-Year Seminar choice. The seminars are all designed as challenging introductions to college-level thought, research, writing and discussion. They are not entry-points into a particular major. They are semester-long intellectual conversations in which each student plays a critical part. Therefore the best five choices for you are the seminars that intrigue you the most, regardless of field, and to which you feel you can bring an active voice: asking great questions, following through with library research, sharing your knowledge and translating your thoughts onto paper. Which seminars will allow you to take yourself into a field of interest in a meaningful way? Which seminars will stretch you? Be open to explore new fields and approaches.

We are looking forward to you joining the community of scholars at Dickinson and bringing your own unique gifts into the dynamic mix of our campus life. We hope that you will find some of your lasting friendships growing out of your seminar. You will be brought together with students from a wide range of backgrounds and academic interests, a mix that raises the level of excitement and opportunity for everyone in the Dickinson community.

You will also find the students of your First-Year Seminar, and even thematically related seminars, living in your residence hall and nearby buildings. We organize housing this way so that you can easily find peers sharing your intellectual interests and create for yourself a truly engaged intellectual campus experience.