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Educated to Lead. Inspired to Achieve.

First Year Experience

Seminar with Robert Hanson at Westminster College

The Westminster First Year Experience is designed to help students make the transition to college and establish an early foundation for success. Student success requires learning how to be an effective student, but it also means developing the skills, self-awareness, and personal wellness strategies needed to pursue academic, personal, and professional goals.

The First Year Experience is founded on Westminster’s Concept for Student Development, which cares about educating the “whole student” and stimulating the intellectual, professional, social, ethical, and wellness components of personal growth.

The First Year Experience begins when students set foot on campus to plan their first semester, and their first semester is grounded in two signature courses:

  • Westminster Seminar- a 3-credit hour topics course that emphasizes development of college learning skills, such as critical thinking, reading analysis, and communication. Students cultivate these skills through an intentionally-designed curriculum that prepares them for college-level success in a fun, challenging, seminar-style course on an unusual and interesting topic!
  • The Leader Within- a 1-credit hour course which helps students learn about all of the opportunities they can pursue at Westminster, encourages students to reflect on their own strengths, habits, and skills, and fosters a process of goal-setting. Students will reflect on their personal sense of “mission” and determine how Westminster can help them to pursue that mission.

Beyond the Classroom

The First Year Experience kicks off with Westminster’s New Student Week, a series of engaging events that welcome new students to the Blue Jay community and introduce them to the many activities they can explore at Westminster!

First year programming occurs throughout the school year- students learn about Westminster opportunities and resources, life skills, professional advice, and how they can contribute to building a better Blue Jay community! Students regularly hear from field experts, campus offices and leaders, and residential advisors in programs and talks that show that meaningful learning experiences don’t just occur in the classroom!

Specialized Support

Through the Westminster Seminar, First Year students are given peer mentors- upperclassmen students who show them the ropes, introduce them to student life, and connect them to campus opportunities!

First year students receive focused advising from faculty members who help them chart their academic path and establish personal goals. Whether students want to study abroad, pursue internships, plan a specialized program of study, or are undecided and exploring major and career options, first year advisors assist students to create an individualized plan for personal success. The Westminster First Year Experience encourages students to look beyond the first year and consider what steps they will take to develop the leader within.

The Transfer Experience

At Westminster we understand that the process of changing schools can be challenging. We make this transition as easy as possible through personalized attention and advising to help students construct a plan for completing their undergraduate education at Westminster.

Transfer students are welcomed to the Westminster community during Transfer Orientation Day at the beginning of the semester. In the first semester they benefit from a Westminster Seminar designed specifically for transfer students (WSM 102). WSM 102 is a 1-credit hour course that acquaints transfer students with the skills and tools needed to thrive at Westminster, and introduces students to college services and resources that will aid them in their pursuit of academic and professional goals.

Transfer students are also given peer mentors who can offer advice and connect them to opportunities at Westminster. Through this mentoring, the Westminster Seminar, and assistance from their academic advisor, transfer students are provided with a community of support to help ensure that their time at Westminster is filled with meaningful experiences and lays a solid foundation for future success.

For more information, please contact our Transfer Experience Coordinator, Neil Hunt.


For more information, contact Director of the First Year Experience, Dr. Kali Wright-Smith.

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