Our First Year Program is all about finding your footing in college. You begin by choosing a Colloquium, taught by faculty from across all disciplines. Colloquia are designed to enhance your communication skills and add your passion and experience to our learning community by asking you to evaluate and question course material. Held to just 16 students, your colloquium professor serves as your first academic advisor, giving you daily access to mentoring and academic support during your first semester.
In the second term, you will further sharpen your research and communication skills in a First Year Seminar, again in a discipline of your choosing from across the arts, sciences and humanities.
Hiram’s first year program is distinct in several ways:
We put our very best faculty in these classes.
At most colleges the rough equivalent is the Writing 101 and 102 sequence. These are generally taught by a large pool of adjuncts, many of whom only have bachelor’s degrees. We have our most established faculty teaching these classes (including four deans for the 2012-2013 school year).
We keep them small and deliver lots of personal attention.
The caps are at 16 on the Colloquia and usually 17 for the Seminars. This means our best faculty are lavishing lot of close attention on first year students. Students are asked to write at least two drafts of every paper, so they are getting lots of individual feedback on their written work.
Every First Year class has a Student Teaching Assistant or Writing Assistant.
These student assistants are vital to providing “social counseling” to our students, helping integrate them into the Hiram community. They also are very strong academically and provide another set of talented eyes on our students’ written work.
These classes are taught by faculty from across the curriculum.
As part of our “Writing Across the Curriculum” philosophy, we have physicists, biologists, historians, etc., teaching these classes. The program is owned by the entire campus community, not just the English Department. This means new students can sample professors in areas they might have an interest, before jumping into a disciplinary class.
The topics are very diverse.
Every class is unique (from the “Sluts, Nuts, and Gangsters” to the “Physics of Roller Coasters,” to “American Sin,” etc.). This means the students can write about a topic that actually interests them. They are much more likely to grow as a writer if they are engaged with the subject material.
Colloquium faculty serve as advisers.
At many schools, new students are assigned to an adviser who is a staff member. Such advisers only get to know the student in the context of advising meetings. At Hiram, we pair the student with the professor they will have in class. Therefore, the professor will better know the student. They will know the student’s strengths and weaknesses and they will have better rapport, allowing more frank and helpful conversations.