Is First-Year Seminar worth the time?

The class of 2022 has arrived at Baruch College, not knowing what to expect during their first year of college. To help them find their footing, students are required to take First-Year Seminar during their first semester. It is a zero-credit, pass or fail course that intends to help students transition smoothly into a new college environment, acquire efficient strategies for studying and learn techniques that will help them strive academically throughout their college career.

If students do not pass the course, they are not allowed to graduate until they take a class during a later year to make up for it.

Some questions students may ask are: Is FYS worth the time and effort? Is it fair to make it a required course here at Baruch? Can it be improved in any way?

Despite the institution's great intentions, some students argue that this course restricts them from taking courses they need to graduate, fulfilling their prerequisites or gaining more valuable college experience. This may result in students becoming disengaged, which is the last thing Baruch College wants to happen. For some, the in-class activities feel more like work that needs to be done for a grade rather than an activity aimed to help them assimilate into Baruch culture.

On the other hand, according to a study by the Canadian Center of Science and Education, in 2014, “Approximately 80 percent of universities offered FYS and students who took the course, on average, were less likely to transfer to another school and more likely to receive higher grades.”

It is evident that FYS prompts students to find new interests, think critically, examine courses they might be interested in taking and cooperate and challenge others intellectually. Unfortunately, this is something most students were not given the opportunity to do in high school.

Many who have implemented the tools provided within this course have successfully learned how to adjust to Baruch culture and used the resources available to aid them in their social and academic endeavors.

This gives students a chance to network and receive opportunities that will not only assist them in college but in life as well. Although taking this class may seem tedious, there are many valuable lessons and strategies to be learned if they are administered correctly. While these lessons may be easy to learn, they are difficult to execute and master.

Moreover, there are various pros and cons with FYS. However, the problem may not be with the class but with how the class is taught. To help improve Baruch's program, the institution should ask and answer a few questions: What does education have to do with life after college? What does it truly mean to receive an education in a democratic society?

However, FYS administrators and professors often neglect these questions. This course should address not only the importance of gaining a higher education or how to be better employees, but also convey ways to understand and fully value students’ lives in and out of college.

If Baruch and other great institutions have this perspective, obtaining academic skills can be appealing and beneficial. The courses are not about the quantity of courses or materials given, but the quality of the course, how it's taught and what experiences are gained.

-Nayerra Zahran

Psychology '22