Your First-Year Experience

In your first year at Elizabethtown College, you will embark on a common learning experience with others in your incoming class. The First-Year Experience (FYE) has three components:

1. First-Year Seminar

This interdisciplinary educational experience develops skills of critical thinking and writing and broadens definitions of learning. The course is a serious academic one, and it is topical in nature, meaning that each seminar has its own emphasis. Our faculty members teach seminars on subjects of passionate interest to them, but no seminar is grounded in a particular major. This is all part of Elizabethtown's commitment to a liberal arts education. We want our students to become well-rounded scholars.

Students in each seminar benefit from the support of a peer mentor—a sophomore, junior, or senior who works with the faculty to facilitate the transition from high school to college. Over the course of the semester, peer mentors lead Roundtables devoted to navigation of campus electronic resources, discernment of Strengths, utilization of course registration software, peer review of research papers, and preparation for oral presentations. Peer mentors thereby provide curricular and co-curricular foundations upon which students can rely both in the first year and beyond.

Each seminar also includes out-of-class learning experiences, which will expose you to educational opportunities and cultural events on campus and, in many cases, beyond Elizabethtown as well. In recent years, students have attended plays, lectures, art exhibits, and film screenings. Some instructors have taken their students to museums in Philadelphia and Washington and even hiked the Appalachian Trail. The possibilities are endless!

As part of your orientation paperwork, you will select your top ten seminars from a list of more than thirty courses. Most students who submit on time receive one of their top three choices! Each seminar is capped at sixteen students, allowing you to develop close relationships with your instructor and your peers.

Each year First-Year Seminar faculty nominate student papers for the Anna Carper Excellence in Library Research Award. Named in honor of Anna M. Carper `41, the college librarian from 1960 to 1986, the prize is awarded for the best research paper in First-Year Seminar. Two honorable mentions are also awarded. In 2017 Margaret Boccella won the grand prize for “Act like a Lady, Kick @$$ like a Man: An Analysis of Gender Roles in Joss Whedon’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” which she wrote for Dr. Shah’s seminar on Joss Whedon. Alyssa Van Lenten won an honorable mention for “The Effects of Caffeine on Prenatal Brain Development,” which she wrote for Dr. Hagan’s seminar on the Science of Addiction. Rebecca Voler won another honorable mention for “The Angel of Death,” which she wrote for Dr. Newsome’s seminar on World War II.

2. First-Year Advising

Professor Rankin, Professor Benowitz, and their advisees

The second component of the First-Year Experience is advising. Your seminar instructor will be your official advisor for the year. Once you declare a major, you will be paired with a faculty mentor in your discipline.

To officially “mark” the transition from your first-year advisor to your major advisor, the college hosts an Advising Connections event in March. Advisors meet their new advisees at this time to officially welcome them to the department. After greeting advisees in assigned rooms, advisors and advisees proceed to one of nine central locations to enjoy punch and Elizabethtown's signature carrot cake reduced to convenient, handheld, muffin form! 

87% of students
who attended the Advising Connections event thought that it helped them connect with their advisor.

3. First-Year Honor Society

ALD Initiation, 2014-2015
ALD Initiation

Alpha Lambda Delta is a national honor society for students who have maintained a 3.5 or higher GPA and are in the top 20% of the class during their first semester of their freshman year.  

Our chapter has had a strong recent history, winning national recognition several years in a row for our recruitment and initiation rate. Three of our recent members have won prestigious and competitive national scholarships through national ALD. Our chapter has organized events such as dances and community service projects. Recently we have participated as a group in service events such as Into the Streets and Pride Day.

Becoming a member of ALD gives you a lifetime National membership and makes you eligible to win distinguished scholarships and awards!

For more information, contact Dr. Justin Badgerow.


Advising Connections: Wed. March 13, 2019, 11 a.m. to noon.

To officially “mark” the transition from your first-year advisor to your major advisor, the Office of the Dean for Curriculum and Honors sponsors  an annual Advising Connections event.

Advisors meet their new advises at this time to officially welcome them to the department. After greeting advisees in assigned rooms, advisors and advisees proceed to one of nine central locations where refreshments will be available.

If you are a double major, please visit first one department and then another. If the second department has already left the meeting room, please proceed to the appropriate refreshment location.