We understand that this is a lot of information, but please read the following instructions and Frequently Asked Questions to understand how the First-Year Seminar program and the linked College Cohort Program will structure your introduction to academic life at CAS.
Virtually all CAS students must register for a First-Year Seminar in either the fall or spring semester of their first year. It’s an important degree requirement, and a critical part of your introduction to academic life at CAS. You can learn more about the goals and purpose of the First-Year Seminar program on our home page.
The seminar does not need to have any connection with your anticipated field of study or future career - in fact, it is a great opportunity to explore disciplines outside your intended field of study, and get a sense of how knowledge is constructed in those fields.
The First-Year Seminar is linked to the College Cohort Program, and the other students in your seminar will also be members of your first-year Cohort. A Cohort is simply formed by pairing two First-Year Seminar classes. Please note that, unlike your First-Year Seminar, your Cohort meets in both the fall and spring semester of your first-year.
Each First-Year Seminar is linked to one of sixteen academic themes. Whenever possible, both seminars making up a first-year Cohort will cover a similar theme. Themes for the 2021-2022 academic year include Literature through the Ages; Contemporary Social Problems; Identity and Society; and Issues in Cognitive and Neural Science.
Among these academic themes, we have one Cohort that is especially recommended for first-generation students, where first-generation students can build a support network of peers.
If you are an international student and you are not sure if you can make it to New York in Fall 2021, you should select one of our seven fall “Global” First-Year Seminars which will be taught online, or a seminar which will be taught in the Spring, so that you can complete this requirement.
In addition to the themes above, we also have six science-focused Cohorts, specifically tailored to students interested in science and medicine:
In three of these Cohorts, each of the six First-Year Seminars is also paired with a Writing the Essay: Science and Society (EXPOS-UA 1) section, and students are automatically enrolled in both, as well as in their Cohort. If this interests you, you can select one of the science-focused seminars in the portal; they are clearly noted as linked with a WTE: Science and Society course.
In the other three Cohorts, students will take only Writing the Essay: Science and Society in their first year and will not take a First-Year Seminar. These students will be required to take a similar seminar-style course later in their CAS career, and can work with their adviser to find an appropriate class. If this interests you, you can select Writing the Essay: Science and Society (a section not linked with the science-focused First-Year Seminar) in the portal.
Students not in these six science-focused Cohorts will choose another version of Writing the Essay or the International Writing Workshop in their first year, and enroll by themselves. (Note that if you were placed into EXPOS-UA 3 International Writing Workshop: Introduction, or EXPOS-UA 4 International Writing Workshop I, you cannot enroll in a science-focused Cohort.)
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of the First-Year Seminar?
Your first year at college can be a daunting experience, and the expectations are wildly different from high school. Your First-Year Seminar is a class where you can develop critical academic skills, such as how to critically analyze an academic paper, present a scientific argument, and confidently join the academic conversation. Most of your other classes will be large lectures, but the First-Year Seminar will allow you to get to know and build a relationship with a professor in a small class environment.
What is the connection between the First-Year Seminar and the College Cohort Program?
When you are placed into your First-Year Seminar, this also places you into a specific Cohort, and assigns you to an adviser. A Cohort is simply formed by combining the students from two paired First-Year Seminars. This Cohort then meets in the Fall and Spring of your first year, to go through the important life and academic skills which will help you succeed at CAS.
What is the purpose of the themes you mention above?
By assigning seminars to specific academic or co-curricular themes, this allows us to create Cohorts of students with similar interests or backgrounds. Your First-Year Seminar and Cohort classmates will be an important community and support network for you, as you begin academic life at CAS.
Do all first-year students need to take a First-Year Seminar?
All CAS students must complete the First-Year Seminar requirement before they can graduate, and the vast majority do so by taking a First-Year Seminar in their first year at CAS. This is the best and easiest way to do it. A very small number of students are not placed into a First-Year Seminar, and will work with their adviser to identify a seminar-style class that will fulfil this requirement for them.
What kind of alternative class can fulfill this requirement?
You should work with your academic adviser to identify a suitable course, but be aware that this must be a course offered at CAS (have a -UA code); it must be a small, seminar-style, discussion-based course, with an enrollment cap of no greater than 30; the course must count for 4 credits (you may take two 2pt courses instead); and the course must be taken as an elective (i.e. it cannot double-count towards a major, minor, or other program requirement). You may only choose this option if we cannot accommodate you in a First-Year Seminar.
What if there’s a clash with another course I must take?
The First-Year Seminar is the centerpiece of your initiation into CAS, and you should build the rest of your schedule around it. If there’s another course that you want to take, but which clashes with the First-Year Seminar, you will have to take that other course in a different semester.