First-Year Experience

The Illinois Wesleyan experience is full of unique opportunities where learning and exploration take place outside of the classroom, friendships are built, and you find an intellectual home. There's no better example of this than the First Year Experience, where this begins your first semester and the benefits last long after you graduate.

First Year Experienes (FYEs) are year-long academic courses that replace a student's Gateway requirement, and build off a topic they're passionate about. While Gateway courses primarily focus on improving students' writing, critical thinking, and group discussions, FYEs elaborate on these goals and also challenge students to explore ideas beyond the classroom, become active in the community, build relationships, and challenge their preconceived ideas. 

The application deadline for the 2020-21 First-Year Experience is May 15, 2020.

Although there are eight unique FYE courses scheduled for this 2020-21 school year (see descriptions below), they all share similar components such as off-campus visits to conferences, lectures, museums and historical sites. Through these hallmarks they  emphasize "breakthrough" learning through an experiential and hands-on approach.

Enrollment into an FYE course is an optional opportunity and replaces the standard, semester-long Gateway courses that all first-year IWU students take.

There is no additional cost to take part in a First-Year Experience.   

Admission to a First-Year Experience course is based on (1) materials you have already submitted to IWU in your application for admissions and (2) your brief response to the FYE application question. 

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2020-2021 FYE Courses

Analytical TitansAnalytical Titans

Do you have an analytical mind? If you are curious about how math can be used to tackle challenging problems and are interested in fields that make use of mathematical models such as economics, finance, or any of the STEM fields, you are encouraged to apply to be an IWU Analytical Titan. In this class, you’ll work as part of an interdisciplinary team in the consulting firm, Titan Analytics, housed in the math department. Titan Analytics works with local community partners on solving problems using mathematical models.

Citizen ScholarsCitizen Scholars

What do the words “citizen” and “community” mean to you? What are the social dynamics that cause these ideas and constructs to evolve? What do scholars say about citizenship? Do you actually believe a campus has a “bubble” or are you willing to learn and engage beyond the classroom walls?  If you want to be a citizen scholar and a change agent, we encourage you to apply to be an IWU First Year Citizen Scholar.

Global Titans

Global Titans

"Globally aware • Intellectually dare • Compassionately share" 

Do you like experiencing other languages and cultures?  Are you interested in examining world problems that affect politics, economics, or culture on a larger scale? Would you like to discuss global issues with your peers as part of a dedicated learning community? Do you want to become an informed citizen, and prepare to make a difference in the world? If so, apply to be an IWU Global Titan. Break the "bubble" and experience the world, from the first moment you arrive on campus! 

Humanities FellowsHumanities Fellows

Do you have a passion for reading literature?  Do you love to argue the finer points of a philosophical or religious debate? Do you like to contemplate how artists and thinkers engage with the most urgent questions of their time, and perhaps even do these things in another language? Do you wonder how you might someday integrate these interests into your professional life? If so, we encourage you to apply to be an IWU Humanities Fellow.

Justice ScholarsJustice Scholars

Do you like watching crime TV shows and listening to crime podcasts? If you have an interest in the law or are passionate about justice in general, you should apply to be a Justice Scholar. We’ll talk about why people are wrongfully convicted – over 2,000 people have been exonerated from prison for crimes they didn’t commit – and we'll explore cases in the Bloomington area in which the men in prison are now being represented by innocence projects. We will read courtroom transcripts, talk to the attorneys involved, and even video chat with the prisoners themselves. In the spring, we’ll tour the local jail and juvenile detention center, as well as meet some crime podcast hosts. Listen to Dr. Amanda Vicary explain this program more!

Policy and Ethics Partners 

Policy and Ethics Partners

Are you able to see more than one side of a controversial issue?  Should marijuana be decriminalized? Should abortion be legal? What government regulations, if any, should restrict access to firearms? Some people like to avoid discussions of controversial political issues. The Policy and Ethics Partners course is for those people who like thinking critically about public policy debates and considering the best points on both sides. If you are interested in opportunities at IWU to explore the relationship between morality and the law while honing your argumentation skills, you are encouraged to apply to become a Policy and Ethics Partner.

Titans for ChangeTitans for Change

Do you admire those who expose inequality, protest injustice, and
mobilize meaningful change? Do you like to contemplate how contemporary authors, artists, poets, and musicians engage with the most urgent questions of our time, and how such thinkers have influenced the youth leaders of movements on climate change, gun violence, LGBTQ+ Rights, Black Lives Matter, The Dreamer Movement, Standing Rock, and Me Too? If you have a passion for social justice and wonder how you might integrate your interest in activism into your life, you are encouraged to apply to become an IWU Titan for Change.


Gender Equity in STEMTrailblazers: Gender Equity in STEM

Are you curious about the current climate for women in male-dominated professions like STEM, business, sports, and the arts? Are you ready to learn about trailblazing women who challenged the social norms of their respective generations to pursue careers they were actively discouraged from pursuing? Have you considered how identity (e.g., gender, race, class, and nationality) can influence a person’s perception of what careers are “for them”? Do you want to learn what women like Hypatia, Marie Curie, Artemisia Gentileschi, Serena Williams, Megan Rapinoe, Nancy Pelosi, Dolly Parton, and Queen Latifah have in common? Would you enjoy exploring careers and how to break into them through field trips and in-depth conversations with faculty and alumni? If you want to know more about how women break through barriers and lead the world, become a Trailblazer. 

Admission to a First-Year Experience course is based on (1) materials you have already submitted to IWU in your application for admissions and (2) your brief response to the FYE application question. 

The application deadline for the 2020-21 First-Year Experience is May 15 , 2020. Apply Now!

Frequently Asked Questions