Student smiling in class

First-Year Experience


What is First-Year Experience (FYE)?

FYE-2100 is an intensive, highly interactive two-credit hour course that introduces students to the excitement of intellectual inquiry, personal discovery, and the university campus culture as they make the transition from high school to college. Facilitated by both an instructor and a student leader, it is designed to unite a new community of WMU students through shared experiences that support holistic wellness. Talk to your academic advisor to register for FYE 2100 this fall!

Why take FYE?

Working with your peers, an instructor, and a student leader, you’ll engage in meaningful activities that help you grow as a person and as a member of the university community during your first semester at WMU. You’ll learn how to pursue your intellectual and personal interests, as well as figure out how to make the most of the many resources on campus available to support you! 

Benefits of taking FYE: 

  • Build positive relationships with peers, staff, and faculty to create a sense of belonging. 
  • Become familiar with campus resources and how to use them. 
  • Develop strategies for academic success. 
  • Explore your own strengths and goals and learn how you can pursue them at WMU. 


  • Is FYE a required course for all first-year students? Do I have to take it?

    FYE 2100 is not currently required, but it is highly recommended that all first-year students sign up for it. In addition, students participating in select programs are required to enroll in FYE 2100. These programs include:

    • Exploratory Advising in Merze Tate College – Students may choose from the following sections of FYE 2100: Exploratory, Classic, Leadership.
    • College of Education and Human Development – Students may choose from the following sections of FYE 2100: CEHD, Classic, Leadership.
    • WMU Alpha Program – Students are required to register for an Alpha section.
    • TRIO SSP – Students are required to register for a TRIO SSP section.
    • Seita Scholars Program – Students are required to register for a Seita section.
    • Foundation Scholars – Students are required to register for a Foundation Scholars section.
  • What are the special sections of First-Year Experience?

    Classic – This section is open to all students who do not fall into the following categories: Exploratory Advising, Alpha Program, TRIO SSP, TRIO FESP, Seita Scholars Program, Foundation Scholars Program, or the College Assistance Migrant Program. 

    Leadership – This section will have a particular emphasis on enhancing the college experience through leadership development. It is designed for both students who were active leaders in high school as well as those who are looking to begin developing their leadership abilities. Students will participate in skill building activities and will have opportunities to develop friendships and connections with other student leaders. 

    Exploratory Advising – This section is designed for students who have not yet declared a major. There will be an emphasis on exploring majors and potential career paths. 

    College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) – This section is designed for students with majors in the College of Education and Human Development. Students in CEHD are required to enroll in FYE 2100, but may choose from this section, the Leadership section, or the Classic section. 

    Alpha – This section is designed specifically for students who have been admitted to WMU through the Alpha Program. It is required for all Alpha students. Students who are not part of the Alpha program should not enroll in this section. 

    TRIO SSP – This section is designed specifically for students participating in TRIO SSP. It is required for all students who are participating in TRIO SSP. Students who are not participating in TRIO SSP should not enroll in this section. 

    Seita – This section is designed specifically for Seita Scholars. It is required for all Seita Scholars. Students who are not Seita Scholars should not enroll in this section.  

    Foundation – This section is designed specifically for Foundation Scholars. It is required for all Foundation Scholars. Students who are not Foundation Scholars should not enroll in this section. 

    CAMP – This section is designed specifically for students participating in the College Assistance Migrant Program. Students who are not part of this program should not register for a CAMP section. 

    TRIO FESP – This section is designed specifically for students participating in TRIO FESP. Students who are not participating in TRIO FESP should not register for this section. 

  • When is the First-Year Experience course offered?

    FYE is offered during each fall semester.

  • How do I enroll in First-Year Experience?

    Ask your academic advisor about FYE 2100 when you’re registering for classes during New Student Orientation in the summer.   

  • What is the average class size?

    Class sizes are capped at 20 students. 

  • Who teaches FYE?

    FYE courses are taught by WMU faculty and staff members, along with an undergraduate student leader as a co-facilitator. Instructors and co-facilitators work together to connect first-year students with campus resources, provide one-on-one support, facilitate meaningful discussions, and create a sense of community from the first day of class. 

  • Is this class just for exploratory first-year students?

    No. FYE is open to all first-year students, including transfer students. However, there are specific sections just for exploratory students. 

  • Does FYE have a textbook?

    This course does not have a textbook, but students will need to purchase a copy of the WMU common read. Each year, all FYE students read a book designed to promote open, honest and thought-provoking discussions related to personal growth and overcoming obstacles. 

  • Will I receive credit for taking this class?

    Yes, FYE 2100 is a two-credit hour course that can be used toward students’ elective credits.  

FYE Awards

Each year, the WMU Office of Student Transitions recognizes outstanding work in the classroom for both FYE Instructors and student leaders. Instructors and co-facilitators are nominated by students participating in an FYE 2100 course or by one another The recipients for fall 2023 are:

Instructor of the Year

Valerie Ott, Associate Director of Leadership Development Programs

One nominator said "Val is always encouraging the class to be the best version of themselves. She goes above and beyond in helping students with their specific needs. She leads by example and is always willing to listen." Valerie gives students a safe environment to be themselves, taking risks and sharing perspectives through meaningful conversations and activities. Another nominator said, "My one-on-one with Valerie about my strengths really helped me to tune into myself and understand things about myself from a deeper perspective."

Co-facilitator of the Year

Alexis Santamaria-Morales, Sophomore  

As the Co-facilitator of the Year recipient, Alexis will receive a $500 scholarship to be used in spring 2024. Alexis' nominators appreciated his daily text messages of encouragement as well as his efforts to organize group meetings outside of class for studying and meals. One nominator said "Alexis made sure to be there for us when we were struggling with school or personal issues. He was a great help in making a connection to WMU by telling us information about the school and how to go about certain things."

What are students saying about FYE?

  • My instructor always answers my emails in a timely manner and is able to answer literally any question I have about campus, classes, sporting events and more. He helps to fill in the gaps, helps me figure out what to do with my schedule, and is able to connect and help me focus.

  • My instructor has created such a well-working environment. The constant encouragement to engage in classroom discussions has allowed me to break out of my shell more. By doing so, I have been able to speak up in other classes and gain a better understanding of my courses.

  • FYE gave me an open, inviting setting to talk to other first-year students in a similar position that I am in. It made me feel less stressed knowing that I was not alone and had resources that I could use to my advantage to achieve academically and socially.

  • FYE is a great class for starting college students because it shows you not only what the academic side of things is going to look like, but also builds strong social foundations and teaches you life lessons.

  • My co-facilitator helped me with the bus system, physically walked me through my schedule on day one, and assisted me in getting contact information of important places around campus. She asks us what we need clarification on and makes sure to cover those topics in the next class session which is always helpful.

  • FYE has assisted me in my social transition to WMU because it has allowed me to meet some great people and I can recognize familiar faces around campus. It really boosts my mood when I am able to wave or say hi to people I know around campus and FYE has definitely helped with that. FYE has assisted me in my academic transition to WMU because I've learned about various resources around campus and I've gotten to meet supportive people such as my instructor, who I know are there for me if I need it.