Bookbinding. The Twilight saga. Mt. Everest. Barack Obama. What do these topics have in common? They were all the subject of a first-year seminar. First-year seminars are classes taught by faculty members to a small group (fewer than 20) of first-year students. Faculty choose the theme of the seminar because it’s related to their research, it’s something that’s always fascinated them, or it provides a glimpse into their academic area. You can learn about being a doctor, how to draw cartoons, the facts about climate change, or the roots of terrorism. On average, the classes meet once a week for 50 minutes, and grades are based on participation and short assignments. No tests.

To learn more about First-Year Seminars, visit the University College website or search ISIS ( for First-Year Seminar under the course search.

Students who have taken first-year seminars say that they’d recommend them to other students because they got to meet other students who had similar interests and they got to know a faculty member one-on-one. Here’s what some students have said:

“It is very nice to be in a small class with a teacher who is truly passionate about what they are teaching.”

“This class  is by far my  favorite this semester. Every class we learn about something  new and very interesting … The assignments are infrequent and  very relevant and applicable to life outside  of the class. I wish it was more than once a week!”