Mercer requires that all entering students take first-year seminar for several reasons.The two-semester sequence provides the scaffolding for the life of a college student and a citizen by helping students understand themselves as emerging adults in FYS 101: Composing the Self by focusing on how this newly understood self becomes a reasonable and moral citizen of the world and in FYS 102: Engaging the World. Within these broader concepts are specific objectives, including, but not limited to, being able to:

  • develop critical thinking
  • master effective communication skills
  • detect flaws in unsupported arguments
  • recognize various disciplinary and individual ways of looking at a topic or issue
  • balance the time to speak and the time to listen
  • find multiple ways to support an argument or interpretation
  • foster positive relationships with faculty and students
  • judge the importance of a liberal arts education
  • promote your intellectual curiosity

Faculty from across the college teach first-year seminar courses, and in addition to the required interdisciplinary core for both semesters, professors chose other interdisciplinary texts to round out the course. For example, math and political science professors may use a text from their field, but the course does not become a math or political course. First-year seminar courses intentionally expose students to multiple disciplines as a means to stimulate thinking and to examine issues from multiple perspectives.

The Distinction between FYS and FYX
FYX courses meet all the objectives of FYS, but students in the course also participate in experiential learning opportunities. They participate in a service learning project with students from impoverished schools, attend a mandatory wilderness weekend trip, and become the advisees of their FYX professor.