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History of First-Year Studies

In 1972, Thomas Jones, the president of the University of South Carolina in Columbia, introduced a new course for first-year college students. The purpose of the course was to help students connect to the institution, as well as transform the way undergraduate students were taught.

Educators across the country have embraced this two-fold mission. In 1982, the first organized meeting on the first-year seminar concept was held. Twenty-five years later, a series of national and international conferences and forums has focused on the first-year experience on all types of campuses.

The National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition was born out of the success of the University of South Carolina’s much-honored University 101 course. The center collaborates with its institutional partner, University 101 Programs, in pursuit of its mission to advance and support efforts to improve student learning and transitions into and through higher education. Through its work with conferences and continuing education, publications, the pursuit of a research agenda, and the creation and dissemination of online resources, the center has grown to become the trusted expert, internationally recognized leader, and clearinghouse for scholarship, policy, and best practice for the first-year experience and all postsecondary student transitions.

The University of Tennessee has offered a first-year experience course since 1990. Today UT offers a range of first-year courses, spanning FYS 100, FYS 101, and FYS 129.