Students gather in Faulconer Gallery for a tutorial discussion

The First-Year Experience Course

The goal of the First-Year Experience (FYE) course is to help students develop skills that will contribute to their academic success and personal well-being during their time at Grinnell and beyond. The course provides students the opportunity to engage in structured discussions about wellness, sexual respect, personal and cultural conceptions of identity, living and thriving in a diverse community, and how to use various College resources. We want all Grinnell students to feel a sense of belonging, not through subscribing to a singular, communal ideology but by reinforcing our commitment to the open exchange of ideas through civil discourse. In short, FYE is meant to help students learn how to have productive conversations across difference in an academic environment and in their social lives.

All first-year students will automatically be enrolled in the FYE course during the Fall semester. FYE sections will consist of two Tutorial cohorts, which will meet every other Monday from 7:30-9pm with their FYE instructor. The course counts for one half-credit and will be graded S/D/F. Class sessions will include discussion of the Common Read, which students are asked to complete prior to the start of the Fall semester.

First-Year Experience Course Session Goals

  1. In keeping with Grinnell’s “strong tradition of self-governance and personal responsibility,” this session will focus on helping students develop individual strategies for positive self-care and coping behaviors in the context of a residential learning community.
  2. Bringing together “a wide diversity of people and perspectives” is one of Grinnell’s core values. We will discuss the concept of “intersectionality” and the ways in which personal and group identities are constructed and categorized. Students will be asked to reflect on aspects of their own identities that have previously gone unexplored and the ways their own experiences differ from those of their peers.
  3. This session asks students to consider the values they were taught, the values they hold, and the values they want to adopt for themselves. We will discuss how those values affect different types of relationships and how they shape one’s role within a self-governing community.
  4. We will discuss multiple definitions of and approaches to social justice. Students will practice skills to have conversations across difference. Students will reflect on their own sense of how they might “us[e] their knowledge and abilities to serve the common good.”
  5. This session supports Grinnell’s core value of encouraging "personal, egalitarian, and respectful interactions among all members of the college community" by developing and discussing shared community standards for respectful behavior in a variety of contexts. The session will ask students to consider one's responsibility in our community-- and beyond-- for helping to promote a safe and inclusive environment.
  6. In this session, we will normalize struggle and build skills for help-seeking behaviors while discussing the variety of resources that support academic and overall success.

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