When I first came to orientation in June, one of the first things we had to do was choose what our First Year Seminar (FYS) was going to be. My first initial thought was, “What the hell is a First Year Seminar?” While I was browsing through my options, I noticed one in particular that caught my eye, which ended up being “Whose class is it anyways?” Little did I know that this course would end up being one of my best decisions leading up to now. Being in a class where the students are actually asked how they want to be graded or how they want their attendance policy to be formed was like finding a diamond in the rough. We often discuss the role of skills and objectives within a FYS in this class which just sparks irony to me because aren’t we supposed to already be learning skills and objectives within this class? But then I thought, it is genius to ask the kids what they want their seminar to teach them, or what kinds of skills and objectives we take out of our course.
The objectives that I feel are crucial to learn in FYS are simple. I believe we should automatically learn time management skills. College is usually the first time that us students will not have a parent telling us to do homework, or telling us to start writing that paper no instead of waiting ’til last minute. Time management can ultimately hurt our grades the most, and learning simple skills to help with this would be extremely helpful. Another objective would have to be how to talk to professors or people of authority. As juvenile as it sounds, this is an important learning objective because students aren’t used to contacting their professors through email and it is important to know what we should say or how to phrase certain things without or emails being sent to the Junk folder. Public speaking is another area where students are struggling. It is beneficial to know how to make a presentation or a speech in front of people now, instead of having to stand in front of a room unable to speak without stuttering. It never hurts to go back to the basics and retouch on grammar and writing either, but a nice touch up of this can help students get through grueling papers and assignments without making the tiny mistakes we would unknowingly make in high school. Finally, I believe first year students should have some sort of overview of how to work a syllabus and Moodle (or whatever kind of program any college uses) because this was easily the most foreign thing I had to try and get used to.
In a perfect world, I believe that all FYS’s should be crafted in the way Robin DeRosa’s seminar is; she lets the student decide what we want to learn and how we want to do it in a sense. If a First Year Seminar is supposed to benefit the first year student, then why shouldn’t we get to decide? In the long run, these skills and objectives should be taught within all FYS’s, and if not I believe the student should take initiative to find a course that complies with all of their needs.