As freshmen students arrive on campus and begin classes, UT strives to make them as comfortable and familiar with campus as possible. UT has created several courses designed just for first-year students. Each freshman has the opportunity to take any of the courses offered to enhance the first year at UT.
Each student is automatically enrolled into First-Year Studies 100: The Volunteer Connection, a required course for all first-year students. This is an online-based course that contains academic success and engagement activities to help students transition successfully into college.
The Life of the Mind program is the main component of this course, requiring students to read a book (this year’s selection was “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot), submit a creative response, attend a presentation by the author of the selected book and participate in a small-group discussion during Welcome Week on campus.
The second course that is offered to first-year students is First-Year Studies 101: The UT Experience. This is a one-credit course specifically designed to assist students with personal and academic adjustments during the transition into college. The course offers opportunities for students to meet other freshmen and establish support groups with fellow peers, staff and faculty.
In addition to transition tips and support groups, The UT Experience course also offers lessons to help develop college success skills, including study skills, to use throughout the students’ academic careers.
The third and final course first-year students can take is First-Year Studies 129: Freshman Seminar. This course offers many small, discussion-based classes where students can get to know other freshmen and a professor on a more personal level while studying topics that apply to the students’ interests and goals.
First-Year Studies 129 has over 50 different course selections to choose from, ranging from French culture to Harry Potter to dorm room decorating. All of the courses are only worth one credit hour, but they are billed as a great opportunity to get comfortable with being on campus and starting a new chapter in one’s life.
Some of the courses are a full semester long, while others are only a first- or second-session course. First-Year Studies 129 is a pass/no-credit course that allows students to take a class on something they are truly interested in rather than only taking required general education courses. These courses have a maximum enrollment of 18 students, allowing students to have plenty of one-on-one interaction with their professor and the other students in the class.
Students can even suggest a new First-Year Studies 129 course by going to
Gillian Gaskins, senior in psychology, took a course on healthy eating and organic practices in farming.
“I think having the classes are a good idea for new students,” Gaskins said. “The courses serve as a good way to get to know other freshman.”
Though the course was interesting, Gaskins feels students should seek a class tailored to their specific interests.
“I would encourage students to take one of the courses only if there is a subject that is of particular interest to them,” she said.
Another First-Year Studies course offered is How to Argue (without yelling or punching) taught by Mark Harmon. Martin Leamon, a sophomore in accounting, took this course during his freshman year at UT. Leamon had many options to choose from and was asked why he chose How to Argue.
“How to Argue looked like the best course to help me develop skills for business. I wanted to learn how to get points across more effectively and develop skills that will help me sell myself in future interviews,” Leamon said.
Many students have questioned whether or not these courses are worth taking and if they would actually learn valuable skills that they will be able to use in the future.
“In How to Argue, I learned what it means to be truly prepared, how to critique a debate and how to hold my own in one,” Leamon said. “It changed my perspective on what a debate is.”
With such a wide variety of courses to choose from, there is hoped to be something that each student would be interested in. All three of the First-Year Studies courses were designed to help first-year students adjust to their new life on a large campus. UT staff and faculty highly recommend that each freshman student enroll in at least one of the courses.