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First-Year Foundations

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Gateway Class

Building a Foundation at OU

Designed to help first-year students make the transition to the University of Oklahoma, First-Year Foundations helps prepare you for success.

“First-Year Foundations is the course that teaches students how to do OU," explained Lori Stevens, director of OU’s First-year and Engagement. "The transition to college is difficult for all students in some way. Meeting academic expectations, making friends, finding that place where you can contribute at OU, creating healthy habits, and just being in the know about campus opportunities are all struggles that first-year students experience. First-Year Foundations is an active learning class designed to walk students through all that they should be doing in their first year to create success at OU."

The two-credit-hour elective course is limited to 19-21 students and is a great way to start building a new community at OU with not only your fellow students but the instructors and Peer Teaching Assistants (PTAs), who are students just one to three years ahead of you in college. First-Year Foundations also helps students learn new methods for studying at the college level and connects them with resources available on campus.

“Being in First-Year Foundations was really key to my freshman journey,” shared Prisca Mbainayel, an international business major. “As an incoming freshman, campus life was more than a little daunting. I didn’t know where to start or how to properly manage all my activities and school work. I’m thankful to have had First-Year Foundations, the instructor, and my PTA all there to help me. Because of them I have learned many invaluable life skills that will carry me through the next four years and ultimately the rest of my life.

“I believe there is a great importance and responsibility in preparing the freshmen, and First-Year Foundations fulfills that,” Mbainayel continued. “That is why I decided to become a First-Year Foundations PTA myself – so that I could also help other incoming freshmen and give back those invaluable skills.” 

You can also choose from 30 different FOCUS themes, designed to help new students learn and grow at OU. These include Academic Success – Math, First Generation, Leadership, Personality and Self, and Small Town Sooners, just to name a few. All First-Year Foundations courses share a common curriculum that makes up 70% of the course content. The other 30% of the content is specific to the focus of that course section.

Gateway Students
Gateway Students
Gateway Students

Another unique option available to you is joining a First-Year Learning Community. FYLCs are the group of students who take two to five classes together in their first year. This may mean the 20 students that are taking Stevens' First-Year Foundations course are also taking the same biology course, giving them a group of familiar faces in that lecture hall. 

Tiffani Bates, Senior Academic Life Coach at OU, teaches the African and African American Community Engagement FYLC and a first-generation college student First-Year Foundations section. She was drawn to teaching these courses because of the community aspect.  

Students within this FYLC group take both First-Year Foundations and Intro to African American Studies together. These classes are back to back, so the students walk to together and spend time creating relationships and bonds with not only each other but also both instructors, Bates shared.

“It’s a huge support having not only the classroom, the small classroom where you’ll find friends and connect socially, but then also having faculty or staff or mentor that’s there to support you,” Bates said. “Some things you can talk to your PTA about, some things you can talk with your instructor about. It’s literally the meat that’s going to help support you and get you through this first semester and further on.” 

Additionally, transfer students can take the Transitions course, which introduces them to academic requirements, policies, and resources at OU. Students will learn about academic advising, transfer credit, degree programs, resources, student life, and methods for achieving academic success at a four-year research institution.