First-Year Seminar Program

The First-Year Seminars at Trinity date to the late 1960s, when they were among the first to be offered at any liberal arts college. Our first-year seminars are small, discussion-rich classes where students and their professor engage one another and wrestle intellectually with a topic. Driven by a faculty member’s passion for a subject, the seminars cultivate curiosity, introducing first-year students to academic habits of mind. Students practice critical reading and analysis, use writing as a mode of learning, and develop essential skills in research and documentation. Writing in a first-year seminar occurs regularly, takes various forms, and improves by means of revision and feedback. The intimacy of a first-year seminar prepares students for becoming active participants in their own learning, fostering the capacity to communicate effectively and collaboratively.

All first-year seminars carry the designation of being “Writing Intensive” courses. To graduate from Trinity College, a student must take at least two “Writing Intensive” courses, one of which must be a first-year seminar. For students enrolled in one of the Gateway Programs (Cities, Guided Studies, InterArts, or Interdisciplinary Science) or the Genomics Research Program, their program’s core course counts as the first-year seminar.

The seminar professor also serves as the student’s academic adviser until a major is declared, no later than March 30 of the sophomore year. In addition to a first-year adviser, students enjoy the support of a peer academic mentor and a broad network of academic resources. The mentor is an academically successful upper-class student who attends each seminar meeting and is trained to help meet the needs of first-year students. Additionally, each seminar has a dedicated network of academic resources attached to it, including a writing associate, first-year librarian, study-away liaison, career development fellow, and student technology assistant.

For first-year students who are excelling academically and not enrolled in a Gateway Program, we also offer a few honors seminars in the spring semester. These seminars provide students with the opportunity to acquire greater intellectual depth in an intensive, small-group setting.