The First Year of Studies serves as the college for all incoming students, regardless of their intended program. Established in 1962, our purpose is to provide the newest members of our Notre Dame family the opportunity to become thoroughly informed about the University and the many educational options we provide before they make a very important decision — what their college and major will be. Over the last 50 years, the First Year of Studies has helped thousands of first-years become successful college students and find their unique calling at Notre Dame.
“Where the needs of the world and your talents cross lies your calling.” — Aristotle
A process of self-exploration, self-discovery, and self-definition is the heart of our first-year experience: we call this process discernment. All first-year students are asked to take a thoughtful approach to their educational path here, thinking deeply about how their skills and talents, their passions and faiths, and their visions for their futures should impact their curricular decisions. We hope that every student will use their first year as an opportunity to become self-directed in their personal, intellectual, and professional development.
Our full-time, professional advisors provide support for our students as they complete the First Year Curriculum and make the challenging transition to college life; our advisors are teachers, showing students how to make sense of complex curricular requirements and place them in a meaningful perspective. We also provide programs and services that foster intellectual engagement and active learning, ensure academic development, and connect with the tremendous resources Notre Dame holds. When our students leave the College of the First Year of Studies, they are prepared to be contributing members of our scholarly community.
The First Year of Studies is a model for first-year success in higher education, following high-impact educational practices that have been tested over many years. Ninety-eight percent of our students go on to their sophomore years and 96% graduate within four years of entering the University. But for us, student success is about more than grades or graduating — it’s about nurturing the virtues and strengths our students will need to be good people, good scholars, and good leaders for the 21st century.