CAS First-Year Programs
The first year of university-level study is challenging. The College of Arts and Sciences offers students two programs that help them complete the first year successfully and acquire the skills and background necessary for success throughout their university careers.
In their first semester, students are encouraged to enroll in the Teacher-Advisor Program (TAP), which is designed to help students begin a successful liberal arts education. TAP combines interactive courses with careful academic advising. In TAP seminars, students approach significant issues from a variety of points of view, develop their critical thinking, and improve their skills in oral and written communication. Students' TAP instructors are also their academic advisors and help first-year students discover their interests and reach academic goals. TAP courses all satisfy the College's distribution requirements. Typical topics for TAP courses include "Science as a Way of Knowing," "Coming to America: Autobiography and Ethnicity," "Geology and Ecology of Lake Champlain," "Rationality: Belief in God," and "Student Movements in the Twentieth Century." More than fifty different courses like these are available to first-year students each year.
As students enter their second semester, it is important for them to continue developing the critical thinking, speaking and writing skills cultivated in TAP, and also to reflect on their choices of majors and minors. Our second-semester program, AIM (Academic Introduction to the Major), is designed to facilitate the transition into a potential major. Courses identified in the AIM program encourage the intellectual shift from a broad exposure to the liberal arts to in-depth study in a particular field. The AIM program identifies courses in all disciplines that serve as "gateway" courses to the major, giving students an opportunity to begin exploring the discipline in a more substantial manner in coursework that introduces them to the nature of inquiry typical in the major.