First-Year Experience

The Illinois Wesleyan experience is full of unique opportunities where learning and exploration take place outside of the classroom, friendships are built, and you find an intellectual home. There's no better example of this than the First Year Experience, where this begins your first semester and the benefits last long after you graduate.

First Year Experiences (FYEs) are year-long academic courses that replace a student's Gateway requirement, and build off a topic they're passionate about. While Gateway courses primarily focus on improving students' writing, critical thinking, and group discussions, FYEs elaborate on these goals and also challenge students to explore ideas beyond the classroom, become active in the community, build relationships, and challenge their preconceived ideas. 

The application deadline for the 2021-22 First-Year Experience is April 15, 2021.

Although there are five unique FYE courses scheduled for this 2021-22 school year (see descriptions below), they all share similar components such as off-campus visits to conferences, lectures, museums and historical sites. Through these hallmarks they  emphasize "breakthrough" learning through an experiential and hands-on approach.

Enrollment into an FYE course is an optional opportunity and replaces the standard, semester-long Gateway courses that all first-year IWU students take.

There is no additional cost to take part in a First-Year Experience.   

Admission to a First-Year Experience course is based on (1) materials you have already submitted to IWU in your application for admissions and (2) your brief response to the FYE application question. 

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2021-2022 FYE Courses

Analytical TitansAnalytical Titans

Do you have an analytical mind? If you are curious about how math can be used to tackle challenging problems and are interested in fields that make use of mathematical models such as economics, finance, or any of the STEM fields, you are encouraged to apply to be an IWU Analytical Titan. In this class, you’ll work as part of an interdisciplinary team in the consulting firm, Titan Analytics, housed in the math department. Titan Analytics works with local community partners on solving problems using mathematical models.

Global Titans

Global Titans

"Globally aware • Intellectually dare • Compassionately share"

Do you have a passion for global languages and cultures? Are you interested in examining world problems that affect politics, economics, or culture on a larger scale? Would you like to discuss global issues with your peers as part of a dedicated learning community? Do you want to become an informed citizen, and prepare to make a difference in the world? If so, apply to be an IWU Global Titan. Break the "bubble" and experience the world, from the first moment you arrive on campus!

Gender Equity in STEM

Trailblazers: Gender Equity in STEM

Are you curious about the current climate for women in male-dominated fields like STEM? Are you ready to learn about trailblazing women who challenged the social norms of their respective generations to pursue careers they were actively discouraged from pursuing? Are you excited to celebrate female scientists’ contributions to many STEM fields? For example, how integral female scientists were in the development of a COVID vaccine? Have you considered how identity (e.g., gender, race, class, and nationality) can influence a person’s perception of what careers are “for them?” As we explore history, we will gain a lens through which we can examine the evolving role of female scientists and learn how we can break the glass ceiling holding back female scientists. In this FYE, we will explore and celebrate the contributions of both ordinary and extraordinary women in STEM, not just in class but also through field trips and in-depth conversations with trailblazing women in STEM from our own community.

Environmental Justice Fellows

Environmental Justice Fellows

Are you passionate about the environment? Can you imagine yourself thinking deeply about the complex environmental issues we face? Do you want to be prepared to foster change in the world? If you answered yes to these questions, we invite you to apply to become an Environmental Justice Fellow. Through media, reading, writing, discussion, and participation in activities on and off campus, Environmental Justice Fellows will explore environmental case studies from around the world, dive deep into examining how these issues came to exist, and, importantly, how we can make a difference.

Justice Scholars: Wrongful ConvictionsJustice Scholars

Do you like watching crime TV shows and listening to crime podcasts? If you have an interest in the law or are passionate about justice in general, you should apply to be a Justice Scholar. We’ll talk about why people are wrongfully convicted – over 2,000 people have been exonerated from prison for crimes they didn’t commit – and we'll explore cases in the Bloomington area in which the men in prison are now being represented by innocence projects. We will read courtroom transcripts, talk to the attorneys involved, and even video chat with the prisoners themselves. In the spring, we’ll tour the local jail and juvenile detention center, as well as meet some crime podcast hosts. Listen to Dr. Amanda Vicary explain this program more!


Admission to a First-Year Experience course is based on (1) materials you have already submitted to IWU in your application for admissions and (2) your brief response to the FYE application question. 

The application deadline for the 2021-22 First-Year Experience is April 15, 2021. Apply Now!

Frequently Asked Questions