First-Year Experience

Four students chat with guest lecturer Luis Diaz

A First-Year Student's initial year at SUNY Old Westbury explores pathways to academic success by combining classroom experiences with community service placements.

The Office of First-Year Experience provides first-year students a supportive environment, rigorous curriculum and enriching educational experiences that foster their personal growth and active engagement in Old Westbury’s richly diverse learning community.

Our goal is to promote academic success, college persistence and classroom and community engagement, by helping first-year students to become intentional learners and develop the intellectual, civic and study skills required to tackle the challenges of college learning and campus living in a multi-cultural environment -- critical thinking, problem-solving, time management, teamwork, financial literacy and self-reflection.

required first-year courses
Fall Semester

FY1000 Ethics of Engagement (4 credits): This course introduces students to academic and campus life at Old Westbury, emphasizing the themes of self-discovery, the meaning of a liberal education, the relationship of the individual to society and the nature of values and of personal and social responsibility. By situating the major intellectual and emotional challenges students confront in their first year of college within the framework of ethics, the course encourages students to evaluate their ideas and assumptions, and the impact of their decisions on themselves, their community and the world. Organized around a series of ever-widening concentric circles, the course moves from a discussion of the role of ethics in individual life, to ethics in personal relationships, to ethics in the Old Westbury community and culminates in the quest for social justice and sustainability in the American and global context. In the process, students are challenged to consider multiple perspectives and to reflect upon their identities, values and aspirations within the larger common good. The course fosters critical thinking and the effective articulation of ideas by introducing students to the close reading of texts and the writing of substantive analytical essays that are the basis of most college learning. Students will also be expected to write weekly reflective journals and to produce a final project. FY1000 is “linked” to a General Education course in a Learning Community.

Spring Semester
  • CL2000 Community, Action, Learning and Leadership (2 credits): Integrates community-based learning and action into the first-year curriculum, challenging students to confront the big questions facing the world today by participating in and reflecting upon civic engagement activities. By engaging students both personally and intellectually at the very beginning of their academic journey in structured service learning activities and reflective projects, this course introduces students to Old Westbury’s social justice mission and encourages their college and community involvement. The goal of this class is to encourage active learning, to promote intercultural understanding, and to build academic, interpersonal, organizational and leadership skills. Students will participate in a 40-50 hour service learning placement, based upon particular seminar and linked course content and objectives. Students may be expected to attend mandatory workshops and campus events. CL2000 is linked to a general education class in a Learning Community.
Sample first-year plan of study
Sample Schedule for Fall Semester Sample Schedule for Fall Semester
Course Name Credits Course Name Credits
*FY1000 Ethics of Engagement 4 *CL2000 Community Learning 2
*000000 Linked General Education 4 *000000 Linked General Education 4
EL1000 English Comp. I 4 EL2XXXX English Comp. II 4
MAXXXX Math Selection 4 MAXXXX Math Selection 4
    XX0000 Elective Selection 4
Total Credits: 16 Total Credits: 18

* These classes are “linked” together in a Learning Community. 

services provided

The FYE provides:

  • An innovative year-long curriculum that includes a common First-Year Seminar, FY1000 The Ethics of Engagement: Educating Leaders for a Just
  • World and CL2000 Civic Engagement, a course-embedded community-based learning and action experience for all first-year students. Both fall and spring seminars are linked to General Education courses in Learning Communities.
  • Advising and mentoring
  • On-campus workshops and guest speakers
  • Trips

CALL Program

The CL2000 Community Learning course is the required service learning engagement that makes up the heart of the College's award-winning Community Action, Learning and Leadership (CALL) program. Through CALL, each first-year student contributes 50 hours of service in a placement linked to the Liberal Education course of their choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Get quick answers to the most common questions we received about the SUNY Old Westbury First-Year Experience.


Laura Anker

Distinguished Service Professor, American Studies
Director, FYE & CALL
American Studies
Student Union

Cynthia Anderson

Assistant Director, First-Year Experience Program
Community Action, Learning & Leadership (CALL) Program
Student Union