First Year Programs

First Year Seminars

High Point University’s general education program begins with a First-Year Seminar (FYS). Each semester, the university offers an eclectic group of First-Year Seminars, all designed to introduce students to the techniques and habits of intellectual inquiry that distinguish a university-educated person.

Each First-Year Seminar is a small, interactive course taught by a faculty member on an engaging topic that seeks to develop students’ skills of intellectual inquiry at a collegiate level. Working closely with their instructor, students exercise their minds at ascending cognitive levels of Bloom’s taxonomy: remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. As part of their FYS journey, students will learn how research questions are formed and explored, and will receive hands-on practice with primary sources. The practice of engaging in deep conversation with their peers will prepare students for continued intellectual growth in other general education, major, and elective courses. Through challenging, supportive, and exciting classroom and co-curricular experiences, First-Year Seminars provide the first step in students’ transformation from high school learners to university scholars.

Required of all incoming students, First-Year Seminars (FYS) are the cornerstone of High Point University’s liberal arts education. By engaging students in guided explorations of important topics and enduring themes, FYS help our graduates see the excitement and value of intellectual curiosity and searching analysis of complex problems and thorny intellectual issues.

Though First-Year Seminars focus on well-defined topics, the analytic, communication, and evaluative skills students develop and practice in these courses are are intended to be transferable to all of the learning they do at the university. In addition to acquiring a thorough understanding of how scholars frame and investigate research questions, students who complete an FYS should emerge as more thoughtful and skilled in using evidence-based reason to tackle difficult questions and problems that defy easy solutions.

Each First-Year Seminar includes a “Big Question.” Big questions are broad, important, and timeless problems or inquiries into the nature of things that cannot be quickly solved or easily answered: What is justice? Is behavior a product of nature or nurture? How do we best reconcile prosperity with sustainability? What does it mean to be human? Though each FYS will consider a unique big question, all First-Year Seminars pursue this activity to help our students

  • Make sense of complicated ideas;
  • Develop the capacity for deep thought, sustained inquiry, and careful, evidence-based reflection;
  • Connect their learning across course and disciplinary boundaries.


Dr. Matthew Brophy
Chair of First-Year-Seminars
(336) 841-9656