FYSEM frustrations

Some students are not sure that FYSEM is an equal experience.

Audra Grigus, Reporter

From studying the art of rock ‘n’ roll to analyzing a nude painting, first-year students are not at a loss for First-Year Seminar (FYSEM) classes to choose from upon arriving on campus.

FYSEM is a mandatory course that introduces new Pipers to the college life and aids them in the development of their critical thinking, group discussion and college-level writing skills.

FYSEMs vary in theme and curriculum, which occasionally leads to new students not being able to take a course that interests them due to how many slots are available.

“In the big picture we just need everyone to be in a FYSEM, and in fantasy land, every FYSEM just rocks it,” said Associate Dean of Students and Physics Professor Andy Rundquist.

Some students do not feel that their FYSEM is “rocking it.”

“I get that FYSEM should feel like a class, but it shouldn’t feel like it is one of the hardest classes,” Coding and Problem-Solving New Student Mentor (NSM), junior Cathy Ngo said. “A lot of my students said that they’re not getting the first-year experience out of FYSEM. It’s more computer science and coding than it is first-year stuff.”

One of Ngo’s students is first-year Jonah Smallfield, who feels the only reason he has been passing the class thus far is his past experience with coding.

“From what people told me, FYSEMs are pretty chill and pretty easy,” Smallfield said. “I didn’t know it was going to be so hard and you needed to know a lot about coding to be in this FYSEM.”

Smallfield wishes his FYSEM allowed him time to “get more comfortable with being at college instead of just jumping right into content”.

Professors have the freedom to design their course to be as easy or hard as they please, as long as it incorporates three learning outcomes designed by Rundquist. FYSEMs are supposed to teach students how to master academic skills and to understand the resources available on Hamline’s campus.

“Variety is important,” first-year and member of the Literacy: Reading the Word and the World FYSEM Emma Harrington said. “Variety in subject but consistency in curriculum.”

With the variety in content offered, there is a diverse group of teaching styles and expectations set for students depending on the course they choose. Some FYSEMs focus on learning through lecture, taking tests or writing papers, while others are centered around discussion.

“It’s kind of annoying how everyone gets a different experience from their FYSEM. It’s nice, but it feels like everyone goes into second semester with a different level of preparedness,” Dream Big: Physics and Engineering NSM, sophomore Briel Holte said.

Students have the opportunity to fill out an evaluation at the end of the semester to give feedback on their FYSEM experience or may contact Rundquist directly with any immediate concerns.

“[The FYSEM program] is our chance to turn Hamline ‘accepted’ students into Hamline ‘awesome’ students,” Rundquist said.