The Connected First Year Experience (FYE) engages students in the study of an issue, topic or problem from several perspectives and disciplines in the first semester of their Wheaton experience. The FYE is designed to encourage exploration and excitement around academic work, to develop student cohorts and teamwork, and to introduce students to the rigor of college level work.

Students work with teams of two to four faculty, representing at least two different disciplines, on a shared topic, question, or problem at the center of the FYE class. In What is Music?, an FYE offered in the fall of 2021, students explored questions about the effect of music on mood, cooperation, the immune system, purchasing practices and the perception of pain all while developing an understanding of the key elements of music (melody, harmony, rhythm, form, timbre). Taught by a musician and a neuroscientist, this FYE culminated with student investigations of their own novel hypotheses about music.

Throughout the semester, students in all FYE sections practice collaboration and active participation, skills that will prepare them for their other college classes. By learning from multiple disciplines, the FYE sets the stage for course selection beyond the first semester.

Section topics vary from year to year and are available within the College Catalog on Banner. Recent sections have covered topics in the arts, ecology, international relations, social and public policy, the sciences and history. Students typically select their top FYE choices and are then placed into a section by late June before registering for other first-semester courses.


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