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Tuesday November 29th

Students discuss first-year seminars they took and the benefits of these classes

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As a first-year student, course registration can be overwhelming. However, UNC has an array of unique courses geared directly toward incoming students that have no prior college experience.

UNC offers a variety of first-year seminars, which are smaller classes that can be used for general education or major requirements or can just be taken for fun. Enrollment in these courses is limited to incoming first-year students and transfer students with fewer than 24 transfer credits.

First-year seminars focus on specific topics and have an interactive environment, setting them apart from the traditional lecture and discussion class format. They are typically held in small classrooms, allowing professors to help students one on one.

Rising sophomore Jada Boyer took Anthropology 63: The Lives of Others: Exploring Ethnography as a first-year student. She said the course showed her a different way to see the world and interact with people. It also taught her to see the underlying issues that connect small details to big issues. 

“I decided to go into anthropology because of this class," Boyer said. "Because I really learned how much I enjoyed seeing people from a new perspective and learning from them and seeing how it could impact our future."

She said the class was research-based, and that it teaches students how to conduct their own research throughout the semester. Boyer also said that for her, the first-year seminar was a good way to meet new people and make friends. 

“It really helped me find a community of people that wanted to learn, wanted to think in new ways," Boyer said. "And I really found my best friends through this class."

Rising junior Taylor Query took a first-year seminar in the Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures department.

The course – GSLL 55: Fantasies of Rome: Gladiators, Senators, Soothsayers and Caesars – studies the idea of Rome through poetry, philosophy, history, opera and more.

“I did a whole project on Neptune, which is Poseidon in Greek mythology," Query said. "So that was really cool because I got to pick what part of the mythology I wanted to study and relate it to something that we had read in the class."

Query said the class gave her a general education credit, but it wasn't related to her major.

"It kind of let me step out and expand my horizons and take a fun course," Query said. 

Rising junior Erin Lambeth took two first-year seminars that offered her general education credits: Exercise and Sport Science 89 and American Studies 89. Both were first-year seminar special topics courses, meaning that the course content varies each semester.

Lambeth said that in the American studies course she learned how to analyze advertisements about food and how advertisements are used to appeal to readers.

She said the small class size made it easier to talk to people, and that the professor really tried to get to know all students in the class. 

“I think they're really fun and a way to ease into college because they're not super high-stress,"  Lambeth said. "And you can get some good credits but also feel like you're learning very interesting stuff."

The specific first-year seminars offered each fall can vary from year to year.

The courses being offered for fall 2022 include Art History 61: African American Art of the Carolinas, Biology 89: Unsolved Problems in the Genomic Age and Sociology 71: The Pursuit of Happiness. The full list of offered seminars can be found at the IDEAs in Action website.

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