First-Year Experience

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A First-Year Student's experience at SUNY Old Westbury is steeped in deep care and introduces students to college life and self-exploration.

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. 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 are expected to attend mandatory workshops and campus events.

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 thematic unit that relates to the concepts studied in FY 1000.  Students may be expected to attend mandatory workshops and campus events. 
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  General Education 4 *000000 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
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

Fall '24 FYE Guide

The Office of First-Year Experience has developed a helpful guide for students joining the University in the 2024-2025 academic year.

Course Descriptions

Please find first-year general education course descriptions that are reserved for first-year students

Frequently Asked Questions

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

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CALL Program

The CL2000 Community Learning course is the required service learning engagement that makes up the heart of the University'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.