Instructor of Accounting Dana Allen poses with a jeopardy board for contest with her FYS students.

FYS Courses Create Customized Transition into College Life

Created: January 14, 2022  |  Last Updated: January 31, 2022  |  Category:   |  Tagged: , , ,

WASHINGTON, PA (January 14, 2022) – What better way to start your college experience than with a class tailored to you?

At Washington & Jefferson College, First-Year Seminar (FYS) courses help students build their foundation at W&J and set them up for success during their time at the College.

FYS courses offer an intensive study on a focused topic and an introduction to the intellectual and student life of the College. Students can choose their FYS course from a wide variety of topics – Fall 2021 included a course that tied themes from the Harry Potter series to real-life problem-solving skills, and another that explored the African-American experience through playwright August Wilson’s work. FYS sections are small by design, allowing students to form close relationships with their peers and professors. Professors serve as students’ advisors until they declare a major, and each class has an assigned LINK mentor, an upper-class student who serves as a guide for first-year students.

Instructor of Accounting Dana Allen '08, CPA, MST taught “Finding Your Patronus at the Wizarding World of W&J” last fall. Her goal was for students to bridge the gap between fantasy and reality while also becoming involved in campus life. She assigned a “Harry Potter House Cup Competition” and “W&J Alumni Turned Employee Presentations” to help her students learn more about the institution.

“To start the semester, I sorted students into the Harry Potter houses and encouraged them to attend campus events to earn points, leading to me getting over 140 pictures of my students being involved in campus life,” said Allen. “This ongoing assignment encouraged the students to get involved on campus, meet new people, and really take an active role in their collegiate experience outside of the classroom.”

Allen also had her students interview W&J alumni who were now employees at the College, helping students experience the uncommon bond that alumni hold with each other and W&J.

Professor of Psychology Timothy Klitz, Ph.D. taught “The Art and Science of Vision and Visionaries,” in which students examined texts and art to uncover the various characteristics of visionary thinking and innovation. Among other texts, Klitz and his class analyzed playwright August Wilson’s portrayal of the African-American experience in Pittsburgh in “Fences” and the role of African-American women in guiding the US to space in “Hidden Figures.”

“For me, FYS is about two primary things: Making sure the students have an academic advisor and advocate for their first semester (and year) at W&J and giving students an opportunity to begin to get comfortable having in-class discussions in their coursework at W&J,” said Klitz. “The LINK mentor also plays an essential role in interacting with the students outside of the classroom setting to provide advice and guidance to both the students and the FYS instructor.”

When you apply to W&J, your customized first-year experience is Founded Here.


About Washington & Jefferson College 
Washington & Jefferson College, proudly located in Washington, Pa., is a historic liberal arts college founded in 1781 that values ethical leadership, professional readiness, and inclusive communities. Our highly customized and intellectually engaging student experience develops professionals of uncommon integrity to lead in an ever-changing world. For more information about W&J, visit, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.