My First-Year Seminar

I could not have asked for a better class to start off my freshman year than my first-year seminar. 

My professor recognized the importance of making our first-year seminar into a community. We were all freshmen and often had class discussions and worked in pairs or groups. Since the course was capped at 12 students, we made quality connections with our professor and lasting friendships with one another. I saw my professor as a mentor and still kept in touch with her after the semester!

The topics of first-year seminars are very unique and usually change every semester. My class was titled “Doing Research: Qualitative Methods and Research Design,” and other seminars include “Desire and Demand,” “Music in Urban Spaces,” and “Diversity, Technology, and the Penn Experience.” The classes not only offer interesting topics, but also count for general education requirements.

In my seminar, we learned various analytical frameworks and research methods in the social sciences and humanities. Throughout the semester, our class visited several spots on campus, including the Henry Charles Lea Library, Penn Museum, Education Commons, and Architectural Archives. My peers and I also learned about the different resources and collections that these locations had to offer. After that, we created and presented an online exhibit of a research collection available at Penn. 

Towards the end of the course, we developed our own research proposals that could be submitted for funding. Dr. Vernon-Grey of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF) also gave a talk to our class about the research and funding opportunities available for freshmen. After the semester, I submitted my proposal to CURF and was awarded with the Hassenfeld Foundation Social Impact Research Grant! The funding allowed me to carry out and conduct my research project during the summer. 

In all, I strongly recommend that you take a first-year seminar because of the invaluable experience you’ll attain. The class truly helped with my transition to Penn, and I cannot imagine my first semester without it!

- Tiffany T.