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Just FYI: First-Year Courses Set Students Up for Success

The First-Year Inquiry Program creates a sense of growth as well as one of community between members of NC State's faculty and first-year students.

A professor stands in the middle of a group of seated students in a classroom

By Natalie Gore, DASA Marketing Intern

First-Year Inquiry, FYI for short, at NC State is a unique program designed for incoming first-year students that focuses on individual success in the classroom. 

FYI partners with several different academic courses, generally those offered to first-years, and creates an additional section of the class, designed with a Q suffix, with a maximum of 19 students enrolled. These courses allow both students and teachers to engage on a deeper level with one another as well as with the material of the course. According to the program website, “results show measurable academic improvement after taking a single FYI course.” 

Students Share Their Experiences

The small faculty to student ratio in FYI classes fosters close, connected relationships between students and professors. These connections can grow a first-year student’s relationships within different sectors of the university. 

Keith Howard works as an assistant teaching professor in the College of Natural Resources and teaches an FYI course at NC State. He believes that these smaller-sized classes allow students to create meaningful friendships with others, and to engage in positive interactions with professors. 

Additionally, he remarked that FYI courses “give faculty an opportunity to provide authentic types of assessments and activities that might be difficult to implement in a large lecture-style setting.” Building these kinds of strong connections and relationships may be imperative for a student’s success, and FYI exists to create and encourage those. 

While it’s immediately clear how important and beneficial these courses are for students, professors are also able to reap many benefits from teaching them. Howard, for example, explained that he “really enjoy[s] getting to know the student’s personalities.” 

Similarly, Bob Patterson, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Crop Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, thoroughly enjoys the time he has spent within the program. Observing the fostering and growth of durable relationships as well as watching students demonstrate interest in a subject outside of the classroom setting are some of his favorite things to see. Additionally, Patterson loves composing recommendation letters for former students because he knows them enough to understand that they “deserve our strongest support.” 

Bob Patterson emerges from a field of plants
Bob Patterson

As a whole, FYI creates a sense of growth as well as one of community between members of faculty and first-year students. Professors are able to watch their students transform and build relationships with one another. Students learn to “understand the benefits to be derived from placing oneself in challenging situations,” which Patterson says is “the very best way to learn what they are capable of accomplishing.” FYI bonds individuals to each other, but also bonds the community of NC State and upholds students to their highest potential.

Learn more about the First-Year Inquiry Program and course offerings on the website: