College can be intimidating as an incoming first year student. Campus is probably much larger than your high school was, and you may not have all the same friends as you did there. The First Year Seminar (FYS) and Action Learning Team (ALT) programs are a great way to step out of your comfort zone and get involved! Sr. Program Coordinator, Elizabeth Bechok described the programs as a, “not so typical learning environment, where students can feel engaged and empowered through topical [theme]-based learning programs. Students can focus on what they want to learn about in a hybrid small group environment.”

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With 30+ different course offerings, each FYS is unique in itself. Comics: Pow! Bam! Biff!, and How to think like Da Vinci are only two examples of FYS 121 courses, which count towards your liberal studies requirement for Aesthetic & Humanistic inquiry. Other courses like FYS 141 Climbing: History & Politics, which focuses on rock climbing, count towards your liberal studies Socio & Political Worlds credits. There are new offerings all the time built around specific areas of interest and social issues. Currently, there are over 1,300 students in the program and it is rapidly growing. With the addition of a Civic Engagement Minor students can participate in these programs throughout their entire college career. They offer a great way to progress towards your degree while exploring your interests, strengths and values so that you make the most of your time at NAU and graduate knowing yourself and the type of career you want to build.

NAU also offers the Action Learning Team programs, which complement the FYS and SYS classes. Action Learning Teams focus on student facilitated outside engagement. The Action Learning Teams can help students gain leadership skills through community partnerships, internships, and interdisciplinary interaction with students from all around campus. Through the ALT program, peers design and execute projects and accomplish goals centered on social or environmental problems relevant to our community in a supportive environment.

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The Action Learning Teams are comprised of 1000+ undergraduates, 20 graduate assistants, 40 teaching assistants, and 50 community partnerships. Each unique team involves students from various FYS and SYS classes and focuses on social, environmental, and economic justice engagement while providing a dynamic learning environment on and off campus. There are a variety of teams working on projects ranging from Community Gardens all the way to Water Advocacy.

At Career Development, we are always pushing students to get involved in extracurricular activities, clubs, and student involvement. The FYS, SYS, and ALT programs are a great way to start! You never know, you might fall in love with one of these programs! Many students get involved their first year with very little knowledge of the issues involved, and leave passionately dedicated to social or political activism. These programs can be for you even if you aren’t a first year student. Undergraduate students, Graduate students, Alumni, and Community members are all welcome to participate!

Find more information about the FYS, SYS, and ALT programs on the web. If you have any specific questions, please direct them to Senior Program Coordinator, Elizabeth Bechok at

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