First-Year Intensives

Preparation to thrive

In your First-Year Intensive (FYI) course, you’ll explore a topic or discipline in depth with a professor and a small cohort of students who share your interests. The first step in the LEEP curriculum, your FYI helps set the intellectual, social, and emotional foundations you need to thrive at and after Clark.

Typically limited to no more than 16 students, FYIs allow you to begin your Clark career by developing a close relationship with a professor and a group of your peers — helping to ease your transition from high school to college. Your FYI professor will most likely be your academic adviser until you declare a major.

No matter the FYI you choose, you’ll learn in a supportive, welcoming environment and build crucial skills — including critical thinking, writing, and debating — that will enhance your confidence and success in other courses.

You’ll choose from nearly 30 different courses that change from year to year.  Each FYI fulfills one of Clark's Program of Liberal Studies requirements,

What are the types of First-Year Intensive courses?

You may choose from three types of First-Year Intensives:

  1. Topic-focused. Most FYI courses focus in-depth on a specific topic within an academic discipline, such as history, philosophy, music, education, economics, geography, computer science, art or psychology. Others stretch across disciplines, addressing social issues or intellectual debates from multiple perspectives. Example: Middle East Politics.
  2. Research-oriented. In this type of FYI course you get a taste of what it’s like to add new knowledge to a field—from framing a question, to gathering and analyzing data, to drawing conclusions and presenting your findings. Example: Border Crossings: Narratives of Travel, Exile, and Immigration.

  3. Introduction to a discipline. Some FYI courses serve as introductions to specific disciplines, and potentially to your major area of study. Such courses offer a foundation and can be a prerequisite to higher-level courses. Example: Introduction to Chemistry.

When you start thinking about FYIs, remember that you have several options. For some majors, you may need to take one or more courses connected with that discipline during your first year, while in others you can begin the major later. Read the catalog descriptions of any major in which you may be interested; while Clark does not require you to take an introductory course in your intended major as your First-Year Intensive, you may choose to do so. You may also combine a non-FYI section of a departmental introductory course with a First-Year Intensive course from another discipline.

Additional considerations:

  • Economics 010, Physics 120, Management 100 and Management 104 are tailored versions of the usual introductory courses in these disciplines. They have been modified to fulfill the criteria of a First-Year Intensive course, as described above.
  • In Biology 101 and Chemistry 101, you will be in a large lecture with students from multiple years, along with attending a smaller lab section. A number of these labs have been designated as First-Year Intensive labs; you will also register for a separate one-hour FYI discussion section.

How do I choose a First-Year Intensive course?

Our full list of First-Year Intensives is not complete, but you can view the First-Year Intensive courses offered in fall 2017. (Click on a course title to read a description.) Your initial interests can include courses in topics for which you already have a passion, as well as courses that will introduce you to an entirely new subject. Keep an open mind as you read the course descriptions, checking the ones that interest you. Identify your top three to five choices.

When you have your advising conversation with your summer adviser in July, you must select a First-Year Intensive as one of your four fall courses.

A few additional guidelines:

  • If you select a course that carries a VE (verbal expression) designation, you must have been placed at the VE level required to register for this course. Your VE level is determined by your writing sample.
  • You may register for only one FYI.
  • Given the small class size, it is likely that some of these courses will fill quickly. You should have several back-ups in mind, and register early for maximum choice.

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