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First-Year Foundations

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First-Year Foundations, UCOL 1002

The transition from high school to college requires many adjustments including leaving home, meeting new people, preparing for an intensive study environment, learning to budget time effectively, understanding university procedures, and making life-changing decisions.

Students who enroll in First-Year Foundations are supported in their transition to college through a specific curriculum designed to help all first-year students, a caring instructor who is deeply invested in first-year student success, and a Peer Teaching Assistant who serves as a peer mentor and co-educator in this active learning environment.

If you'd like enroll in UCOL 1002: First-Year Foundations for the Fall 2022 semester, you can email your academic advisor for instructions,  or contact the office of First-Year Learning & Engagement at

Click the button below to view the brochure and learn more about First-Year Foundations courses and other course offerings in First-Year Learning and Engagement.

UCOL 1002: First-Year Foundations is a letter-graded, two-credit-hour elective course that teaches new incoming students how to successfully navigate OU and build a strong foundation for collegiate success. Each class, limited to 19-21 students, aims to foster campus connection and promote student interaction and involvement. This course includes reading, writing, projects, and out-of-class homework assignments all designed to guide students through important steps firt-semester students should take to build success at OU.

First-Year Foundations is different from many other courses in that the format is primarily discussion rather than lecture. The content is focused on the process of learning and becoming a successful student, setting and reaching your personal goals, and major selection/career preparation.

Each First-Year Foundations course shares 60% common curriculum to ensure that all students taking First-Year Foundations have the opportunity to engage in those important tasks vital to creating success at OU. In addition, each course has 40% of the curriculum customized to the specific section and includes a curriculum built around the FOCUS theme of that specific section.  


This course is designed to establish foundations for becoming successful and effective college students. Course experiences will provide, among other things, opportunities to accomplish the following:

  1. Develop and refine skills that will help ensure academic excellence. These skills will include training in time management, note-taking, and test-taking strategies.
  2. Investigate the nature of higher education and the University of Oklahoma. Find out what constitutes a university. Enjoy learning about the history, traditions, and culture unique to OU.
  3. Get to know an instructor to whom you can bring questions and problems. Developing a relationship with a teacher in a small class can be extremely helpful in learning to solve problems.
  4. Learn about yourself as a student.  First-Year Foundations includes activities to encourage the examination of thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors that affect the performance of students and their acceptance within the campus community. Regular reflective writings provide an outlet for personal expression.
  5. Learn about the many resources at OU. The University of Oklahoma has vast resources: academic, social, cultural, technological, and others. First-Year Foundations will help you access these resources.
  6. Practice and improve your ability to communicate your thoughts. In college, students are often expected to study subjects in ways different from high school. In First-Year Foundations, you will explore selected topics utilizing frequent class discussions, small group activities, and reflective writings.
  7. Learn about other students and interacting in the community. In First-Year Foundations, you will get to know your peers well, both inside and outside the class through experiences such as volunteer service and cultural events.

The common curriculum for all First-Year Foundations courses includes a common read. Students taking the First-Year Foundations course will read the bestselling collection of essays, "This I Believe" combined and edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman. "This I Believe" is filled with excerpts of personal testimonies, beliefs, and philosophies of each writer, and is a moving piece that really challenges the reader to think critically about their own stories and how these stories have shaped what they believe and value in their lives. At the end of the course, students write their own "This I Believe" essay, and a selected few will recite their "This I Believe" essays at "This I Believe: OU" which takes place in the spring. For more information on the "This I Believe: OU" event, click here.

The This I Believe common read program was created in partnership with the Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing. The Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing was founded on the belief that humans flourish when they develop their fullest potential as rational and moral beings living in healthy communities. The Institute promotes, cultivates, and measures nine virtues, character traits humans need in order to flourish. Students in Gateway will explore these nine virtues throughout the curriculum and through the essays presented in "This I Believe" as well as their own "This I Believe" essay writing process. To further explore the nine virtues, click here.

OU's First-Year Learning Communities are essentially a community of learners that take 2-4 classes together during their first-semester. The hub course of the FYLC is First-Year Foundations. 

Learn more about First Year Learning Communities