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First Year Experience at Youngstown State University

The First Year Experience (FYE) courses at Youngstown State University are designed to assist incoming students during their transition from high school to college. The program also assists students who may be transferring from a different university. 

Incoming freshmen are required to pass (with a grade of "C" or better) their FYE General Education requirement in their first 24 credit hours.

By discussing and writing about topics including Career Awareness, transition to college, and the Common Intellectual Experience, PenguinThink, as well as participating in at least three campus activities, first-year students will begin to feel comfortable on campus and connect with the university.

The Office of First Year Experience

Mission Statement

The Office of First Year Experience supports the creation, implementation, evaluation/assessment, and improvement of the First Year Experience courses which are General Education requirements at YSU.

Director of First Year Experience

Dr. Karen Becker
3046A Jones Hall
Youngstown State University

Learning Goals and Outcomes:

Goal #1:

Students will participate in a culture of community.


1. Students will identify and participate in student organizations, campus resources, and co-curricular activities that fit their interests and goals

2. Students will establish working relationships with faculty, advisors, and student support services, including an understanding of The Student Code of Conduct and Student Handbook

3. Students will evaluate issues of living in a diverse society

4. Students will learn to articulate varying points of view regarding the common intellectual experience

Goal #2

Students will learn skills that promote academic and professional growth


1. Students will conduct an exploration and development of their academic interests and career pathways

2. Students will practice skills needed to improve written communication and develop critical thinking

3. Students will explore non-cognitive skills necessary for success in college and career-life

The Common Intellectual Experience: PenguinThink

The goal of PenguinThink is to involve incoming students with the campus and community through a mutual investigation of a common topic or theme which includes interdisciplinary collaboration and conference-style presentations for incoming students and also provides opportunity for colleges and programs to collaborate and share ideas with students across campus.  Each semester, students have an opportunity to enter the PenguinThink Contest for a scholarship applied toward their sophomore year YSU tuition.

Career Awareness

As set out by the General Education committee, students will undergo a career assessment and review the outcomes. All incoming students must complete a Career Planning module per Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) requirements. Career Services or college-specific career advisers are involved in the classroom discussions.

The objectives of this module are to:

  • Identify students’ interests, personality, and values
  • Recognize self-awareness
  • Explore career fields
  • Identify in-demand careers
  • Develop self-reflection skills

Campus Activities

It is required that students in FYE courses complete three to four campus activities, with at least one of the activities being outside of the specific college. This requirement varies by college, however.

Some examples of events students can attend are:

  • Sporting events
  • Plays and concerts
  • Student organizations
  • On campus and local lecture series
  • Academic resources for tutoring and academic assistance
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Other events put on by different departments and organizations on campus