First Year Seminar Guidelines for Students

First Year Seminar Guidelines for Students


The First-Year Seminar (FYS) is a course that must be completed by all baccalaureate degree students within their first year of enrollment at Penn State.

The 10 top reasons to enroll in a First-Year Seminar:
  • Small class size-no more than 20 students in a class
  • Active learning with critical thinking and problem solving
  • Get to know the instructor-a full-time faculty member
  • Get to know other students and the college community
  • Learn skills to be successful in college-study skills, etc.
  • Adjust to the demands of college-it's different from high school
  • Learn technology and library skills
  • Improve communication skills for later courses and life
  • Explore new areas, goals, and career objectives

The First-Year Seminar (FYS) is a course that must be completed by all baccalaureate degree students within their first year of enrollment at Penn State. This requirement can be met by enrolling in a three- credit general education course that has been designated as a FYS or by taking a one-credit FYS. The Berks Campus offers a variety of First-Year Seminars. Students may choose from three-credit general education courses which have the "S" designation or one-credit courses with the PSU 005 designation. (AG 150S for two credits is also available.)

It is recommended that students schedule a FYS in their first semester of enrollment.

The First-Year Seminar (FYS) is a component of Penn State's revised General Education Requirement. The purpose of the First-Year Seminar is to introduce new students to an open and purposeful learning community, and to help them develop the habits and pleasures of good scholarship. Working with a regular faculty member in a small class environment, they will learn that expectations of personal integrity, level of effort, and civility at Penn State are much higher than in high school, but that there are many people, vehicles, and support to help them meet those expectations. They can learn to take charge of their own education, to plan for internships, international experiences, research, and, in general, to become active learners. And they will find that a life-habit of learning is satisfying, useful, and necessary.

Commonly Asked Questions:

  1. Which courses are First-Year Seminar Courses? First-Year Seminar courses are identified in two ways. All courses that begin with the abbreviation "PSU" are first-year seminar courses. Example: PSU 005 is a First-Year Seminar course. All courses or sections that have a suffix of "S" or "T" following the course number are First-Year Seminar courses. Example: Stat 100S is a first- year seminar.
  2. Must I enroll in a First-Year Seminar course? All first-year students in baccalaureate degree programs admitted to the University must enroll and successfully complete a First-Year Seminar course. This is a graduation requirement that will be recorded on your Degree Audit.
  3. Which First-Year Seminar course should I register for? You should follow the specific advising provided by your college. Information will be provided to you during New Student Orientation, through your college's academic advising center, and college meetings.
  4. If I change colleges or change my major after I complete my First-Year Seminar course will I need to take another First-Year Seminar course? No. To fulfill the graduation requirement, you need to successfully complete only one First-Year Seminar course.