Stony Brook University students make their way to class on a sunny afternoon. The Stony Brook Curriculum requires all freshmen to take a 101 course associated with their Undergraduate College. EFAL SAYED/STATESMAN FILE

I am currently finishing up my freshman year and I couldn’t feel more accomplished and blended into this university. In the past year, I started writing at The Statesman, became an Undergraduate College Fellow and joined Greek life. My diversity in involvement can be attributed to how Stony Brook provided many resources for freshmen to handle the transition from high school to college. 

One of the ways Stony Brook eases freshmen into the college scene is assigning them to an Undergraduate College (UGC). The university has six UGCs — Global Studies, Human Development, Science and Society, Arts, Culture, and Humanities, Information and Technology Studies and Leadership and Service — that provide a central theme for the First-Year Seminar 101 class in addition to activities throughout the year. Incoming freshmen rank the UGCs based on the location of the dorms associated with the UGC, whether they want to live in corridor or suite style, the theme and what First-Year Seminar 102 classes are offered in the spring semester.

I chose Global Studies (GLS) because of the theme and because someone told me about Yang Hall’s luxuries. I didn’t end up living there and lived in a triple most of my first semester and a double in the same building. Even though the building isn’t what I wanted, I was pleased with what the GLS 101 class offered. The class may only be 53 minutes long and have under 20 students in it, but it is extremely beneficial to attend and take seriously.

Graduating senior and biology major, Tracey Rosenlicht, feels that her freshman experience — especially her 101 class — allowed her to grow. “As I look back on freshman year I felt that my 101 class was helpful in terms of academic success and focused a lot on how to navigate the academics of Stony Brook,” Rosenlicht said. “Otherwise, I felt that given the size of the class, I was able to make friends which helped me become more social in my other classes.”

The fall semester’s 101 class also contains a fellow, who is typically a sophomore serving as a teaching assistant and mentor for freshmen. They act as a “go-to” person in case students are having trouble adjusting to college. Fellows also push students to get involved on campus, which is actually enforced in the class. All of us students know that it’s essential to get involved in something on campus; if not, it will slowly become lifeless. 

Students have to attend four events for the class throughout the course of the semester. One event that all freshmen are required to go to is Commons Day, where the author of the required summer reading book gives a talk. This day unites students from all of the UGCs in one place. For the other three required events, students can attend general events meant for anyone; for example, one can attend a seminar on study habits or an event for their quad such as a Kelly and Roosevelt Quad mixer. The class only has students in the same UGC, which is beneficial, especially for those freshman who live on campus, because students in the class all live in the same quad, making it a little easier to make friends. 

These events may be a drag for some, but they convince those who just want to coop in their bed to get involved on campus. In addition to going, students have to journal about their experiences at the events and other class lectures.

The last part of the class pertains to completing a final project based on the UGC theme — Global Studies’ project relates to human rights. This project helps students understand the theme better and allows them to work as a community to learn. My project involved the international water crisis, the severity of which I didn’t even understand until I did the research for it. Other UGCs such as Science and Society had to debate about a topic related to gene therapy. The project brings back the idea of why we have UGCs in the first place: to have a small community inside a large public university. Having a small knit community can help those who went to smaller high schools or haven’t really been away from home adjust smoothly.

Personally, I thought the GLS class was just plain cheesy. The class, however, introduced me to the Fellows program and inspired me to take more of a leadership role. If I were to be even more cheesy, you can see that the quieter students all came out of their shell — at least a little. The class helped transition everyone to take a step out of their comfort zone and get strapped into the roller coaster we call college. Without this class, some freshmen might have no idea that important programs such as CAPS exist and how to plan their course schedule with Stony Brook’s custom schedule builder. Thank you, GLS 101, for allowing me to conquer my freshman year. Here’s to the next three.