First-Year Seminar (GE 100) is a 3-unit course designed to introduce students to academic success strategies and foster a sense of belonging at the university through engagement in the curricular and cocurricular life on campus. The curriculum is structured to accomplish this in three ways:
First, the First-Year Seminar orients students to, and equips them for, the expectations of college-level rigor as well as the unique, flourishing community here at APU. In the first weeks of the semester, we review a multitude of University 101 topics that help our students become more attuned to and understanding of college values, rigor, and skill sets. Each University 101 topic is paired with information about a specific campus resource to ensure our students feel equipped to seek support from, and a stronger sense of belonging to, each department or center that provides guidance in varying facets. The First-Year Seminar also partners with Alpha Leaders (or peer leaders). Each class section consists of 2-3 Alpha groups, each of which is made up of 8-12 students. Alpha groups meet outside of class time each week to continue University 101 conversations, and to continue to foster the sense of community and belonging on our campus.
Secondly, first-year students are challenged to learn about and reflect on personal health and wellness—we believe that in order for students to take care of their grades, studies, relationships, etc., they must first take care of themselves. As students are transitioning to college life in their first semester at APU, First-Year Seminar meets them there with informative lessons on health and wellness topics, such as nutrition, body image, stress, anxiety, sleep, and so on.
Lastly, the course also spends time developing students’ critical thinking, communication, and information literacy skills. Researching, reading, and writing through a college-level critical lens is of paramount importance for success in academia and careers that follow. The First-Year Seminar curriculum explores a problem-based pedagogy, meaning students study a problem from many perspectives and approaches, then assess the best way to solve the problem based on the evidence and arguments they have collected and evaluated over the semester.
All new students are required to enroll in First-Year Seminar in their first semester, except for those in Honors College, who have their own seminars. The course fulfills General Education requirements and has no prerequisites, and reflects APU’s Four Cornerstones—Christ, Scholarship, Community, and Service.