First Year Experience

  • By pursuing your studies at Lang, you will benefit from the closeness of a liberal arts college, the resources of a larger university, and the endless possibilities of New York City. To help you navigate these opportunities and the challenges that come along with them, Student Success advisors, faculty advisors, and first-year fellows are available to assist you with your transition to college life and studies. Although your first year holds excitement and promise, you might also experience challenges such as homesickness, finding new friends, and figuring out the city. Feel free to speak with your Student Success advisor, your faculty advisor, or your first-year fellow for support and also read these tips on transitioning to college and city life (PDF). The office of Student Success offers assistance to students as they translate their personal interests and passions into a path of study and eventually enter the world of work. To find out about news and events hosted by Student Success as well as other offices and programs across the university, visit NarwhalNation

    First-Year Curriculum

    Almost everyone finds the first semester of college exciting but also challenging. So much is new and unfamiliar: new living arrangements, a new community of students, increased responsibilities, greater academic expectations. Lang’s first-year seminars/workshops and writing courses provide incoming students with support and guidance vital to their overall academic success. We encourage you to explore new intellectual realms by taking a broad range of liberal arts courses during your first year at Lang. Try leaving your comfort zone and choose topics you wouldn't ordinarily decide to study. You’ll have enough time to focus on a specific major or minor, so allow yourself this time for exploration. For questions about the First Year curriculum, contact First Year Chair Natalia Mehlman-Petrzela at

    As a first-year student, you should complete 30 credits during your first two semesters, including the three required courses listed below. First-year students starting in the spring semester should consult with a Student Success advisor about fulfilling these requirements.

    Required Courses for First-Year Students

    First-Year Seminar

    Your first-year seminar is taught by a professor who serves as your faculty advisor during your freshman year at Lang. These seminars draw upon professors’ expertise in particular areas and topics, but they are all designed to be useful and accessible for students with a wide range of interests and academic goals. The seminars also offer you the opportunity to engage in intense discussions with your classmates, developing the skills to grapple with challenging material and diverse perspectives in your other courses as well.

    Every fourth class session of the first-year seminar is a workshop led by your first-year fellow. These workshops are designed to help students develop critical thinking skills around social justice and liberal arts as well as good study habits, academic planning and time management skills, seminar discussion techniques, and personal health and safety awareness. 

    First-Year Writing

    All first-year students are required to complete two topic-based courses in expository writing, Writing the Essay I and II. Writing the Essay I helps students formulate, develop, and express ideas through a process of writing, workshopping, and revisions. Students begin with familiar formats (like the personal essay), then move on to more analytical writing (the critical essay). In Writing the Essay II, students develop a clear and forceful prose style through close reading and consistent work in writing, workshopping, and revision. Students explore research methods and produce at least one in-depth essay that requires library research. Contact First Year Writing Director Scott Korb at Students interested in a perspective on Scott's teaching, his writing, and what he's reading can visit his New School portfolio. For regular updates about the program and its faculty, visit the First Year Writing Portfolio.