where academic investigation +
christian faith +
service to others unite

First-Year Experience

La Sierra University’s First-Year Experience program helps students complete a successful transition to college by 

  • Introducing important university resources
  • Developing academic strengths
  • Identifying major and career goals
  • Connecting with peers, faculty, and campus life

The First-Year Experience begins during summer’s First-Year Orientation and continues during the school year in the First-Year Seminar and weekly academic coaching sessions.

The freshman journey begins at summer orientation where students will

  • Connect with professors and staff
  • Learn about campus policies and resources
  • Register for classes
  • Meet their future classmates

Orientation is required for all freshmen new to college or transferring 23 college credits or less. To learn more and register for this event, please click here.

A student’s freshman year continues in the First-Year Seminar. Designed for new students and those with 23 college credits or less, this two-quarter sequence helps students learn about general education and build the basic study and social skills necessary for success. 
Students enroll in either the First-Year Seminar or an enhanced version called Critical Thinking Skills for the University Student.

FIRST-YEAR SEMINAR

This seminar is an introduction to La Sierra University life, including campus culture and the general education curriculum. Each course is centered around a unique theme; nevertheless, each seminar assists students with utilizing learning resources and strategies including time management, goal setting, and financial literacy.

CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS FOR THE UNIVERSITY STUDENT

In this course students cultivate critical faculties through reading comprehension, written and oral communication, and learning communities. In addition, students will focus on developing such skills as time management, goal setting, reading and memory, and stress management. 
This course is required for students accepted on a provisional basis. Students enrolled in basic skills courses are also encouraged to register. Three (3) units of UNST 100A seminar is completed during fall quarter and the 3-unit UNST 100B is completed during winter.

To support the freshman journey, students will be matched with their own personal academic coach. Students meet with coaches 30 minutes each week they are enrolled in the First-Year Seminar. Together they will review study skills and habits, monitor grades, plan course schedules, and identify learning resources that will support their academic success. 
At the end of the coaching experience, students will:

  • Know requirements needed to complete their chosen academic program
  • Utilize campus resources to enhance their learning experience
  • Understand how to successfully navigate university life

Seminars

Each section of University Studies (UNST) 100 and 101 features strategies for college success including lessons in time management, stress control, academic integrity and, engagement with the La Sierra University campus. This information is delivered through a specific theme chosen by each seminar’s faculty, granting students the opportunity to select a class that matches their academic or personal interests.

 Below are some of the courses we offered in Fall 2013. Look for our Fall 2014 course descriptions soon.

CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS FOR THE UNIVERSITY STUDENT

Instructor: Joel Haldeman, B.A.

Collaborating Faculty

This course will help first-year students develop their critical faculties through participation in higher-level thinking activities, reading comprehension, and written and oral communication. A focus on creative expression is used in the course to instill in students a sense of curiosity. In addition, students will develop learning strategies including time management, goal setting, multi-level thinking, effective reading, memory strategies, and stress management. Two days of two-hour learning community will enhance the three-day weekly seminar experience. An academic coach will aid with the transition to university life through class time and in weekly meetings with each student.

ALIENS FROM THE ABYSS

Instructor: Lloyd Trueblood, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology

In Aliens from the Abyss we will explore the amazing and crazy critters from the deep sea, and the machines and technology used to find them. Imagine a fish that has a clear head and eyes that can look up through its skull or worms that have no mouth or stomach but instead get fed by bacteria living inside them. This will serve as a framework for mastering the topics of UNST. An academic coach will aid with the transition to university life through class time and in weekly meetings with each student.

 

AND ALL THE PEOPLE SAID, “AMEN”: LESSONS IN HOW TO PRAY

Instructor: Maury Jackson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry

This course provides an overview of various prayer forms drawn from the book, Let the Whole Church Say “Amen!” In the two quarters, students will write, pray publicly, and revise their prayers in group working activities. There will also be lessons and discussions on how to listen critically, creatively, and appreciatively to prayer.  An academic coach will aid with the transition to university life through class time and in weekly meetings with each student.

 

BECOMING A BIOLOGIST: UNDERSTANDING GENERAL BIOLOGY

Instructor: James Wilson. Ph.D.
Professor of Biology

This first year seminar is designed for students who are concurrently enrolled in General Biology and plan on continuing their studies in the biological sciences. The goal of this seminar is to establish a strong foundation of biological principles that will assure successful understanding in General Biology and more advanced courses in Biology. An academic coach will aid with the transition to university life through class time and in weekly meetings with each student.

 

EXPLORING U.S. NATIONAL PARKS

Instructor: Joel Haldeman, B.A.
Collaborating Faculty

This course will explore Yellowstone National Park and its history, flora and fauna, and geology as viewed through the eyes of indigenous people, early explorers, and current users. Yellowstone National Park will also serve as our model as we explore the development of the national park system. Each student will adopt a national park and create reports that focus on aspects of the park of their choice. An academic coach will aid with the transition to university life through class time and in weekly meetings with each student.

 

GOD AND POLITICS

Instructor: Wonil Kim, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Old Testament Studies

“Since when did believing in God and having moral values make you pro-war [and] pro-rich?… And since when did promoting and pursuing a progressive social agenda with a concern for economic security, health care, and educational opportunity mean you had to put faith in God aside?” Jim Wallis asks these questions in his book God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It—A New Vision for Faith and Politics in America. In this course, students will not be asked to agree or disagree with the positions presented. But they will be asked to raise intelligent spiritual questions in the context of the political discourse currently taking place in our world.

 

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO DESPICABLE ME 2

Instructor: Sam Leonor, M.Div.
University Chaplain and Collaborating Faculty

This course is an exploration of the basis, formulation, and implications of the world view of film makers. Class members will explore this art form and discover what movies say about us, our society, faith and culture. Through weekly film viewing assignments and class discussions, students will be able to identify the film makers’ world views, political biases, and religious convictions.  An academic coach will aid with the transition to university life through class time and in weekly meetings with each student.

 

LEARN TO MAKE IPHONE APPS

Instructor: Enoch Hwang, Ph.D.
Professor of Computer Science

You have heard about Apple’s iPhone app craze with over a billion downloads. Now you can learn how to make your very own app for the iPhone or iPad, and put it up on the app store to sell. In this course, you will learn simple computer programming skills, logical thinking, and the possibility of becoming the next millionaire. No computer programming background is required. An academic coach will aid with the transition to university life through class time and in weekly meetings with each student.

 

MONEY MATTERS

Instructor: Danette Zurek, MBA, CPA
Assistant Professor of Accounting

Learn to manage your money now, so you can maximize your potential for financial independence, even if your future doesn’t go as you originally planned. Students will evaluate their own attitudes towards money, discuss how their faith in God affects those attitudes, clarify personal goals, learn how to budget, explore ways to plan for their financial futures, and learn tips to ward off pesky financial predators. An academic coach will aid with the transition to university life through class time and in weekly meetings with each student.

 

MUSIC AS A MIRROR OF THE WORLD

Instructor: René M. Ramos. Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Music

This course will attempt to unlock the secrets of art (“classical”) music and show how music reflected the world surrounding its creator and auditors at different times. Students will listen to a number of musical compositions and record their response/reaction to the music. Class work will include the use of internet resources as well as written reports and oral presentations. An academic coach will aid with the transition to university life through class time and in weekly meetings with each student.

 

PERSONAL FINANCE FOR EVERYDAY LIVING

Instructor: John Carter, M.M
Assistant Professor of Music

What’s a budget and why should you care? How will student loans impact your post-graduation career options? What of all this can you “just worry about later?” This class will crunch real numbers based on your own goals and discuss how financial concepts such as debt and investing can impact the quality of the rest of your life. An academic coach will aid with the transition to university life through class time and in weekly meetings with each student.

 

PERSONALITY MATTERS: WHAT’S YOUR TYPE?

Instructor: Marni Straine, M.S.W.
Assistant Professor of Social Work

This course will attempt to help students better understand who they are and how personalities influence ones social behaviors, study habits, career choices, spiritual and religious practices, and how one deals with stress. By more fully understanding ourselves, we can better recognize how our personalities shape the lens from which we see others, God, and the world. An academic coach will aid with the transition to university life through class time and in weekly meetings with each student.

 

PETS & PEOPLE

Instructor: Melissa Brotton, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English

This class will focus on human-pet relationships, including how they have evolved over time, issues of ownership, how we think about our pets, and how we care for and train them. While the primary focus will be on dogs, we will also explore how pets are now being used in medicine to help lower patients’ blood pressure and to provide needed love at the end of life.

 

POPULAR MUSIC AND MTV

Instructor: Kimo Smith, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Music

Are you a popular music fan? Do you have to have your MTV? Do you want to find out how this could possibly have anything to do with campus life at La Sierra University? If the answer to these questions is “yes,” join this section. Start collecting your favorite CDs to bring to class, and be ready to interact with others as we explore going to college in the MTV generation. An academic coach will aid with the transition to university life through class time and in weekly meetings with each student.

 

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARTIFACTS: ARCHAEOLOGY AT LA SIERRA

Instructors: Kent Bramlett, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Archaeology and History of Antiquity
& Douglas Clark, Ph.D., Professor of Biblical Studies and Archaeology

Indiana Jones had some things right about archaeology – not many, but some. This course will explore the REAL archaeology of Bible lands in the ancient Near East through the use of readings, lecture/discussions, media clips and discussion, small-group activities, visits to/assignments in La Sierra archaeology labs, and hands-on acquaintance with likely the largest collection outside of Israel/Palestine of biblical-era artifacts. An academic coach will aid with the transition to university life through class time and in weekly meetings with each student.

 

ROAD TRIPPIN’ – RHODES TRIPPIN’

Instructor: Ken Crane, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology

This course will provide a series of reflections about how our physical migrations parallel our emotional and spiritual movements (or to put it another way, the road trip is a metaphor for your university experience). Each session will address different sides of this experience, as well as other tasks to help successfully socialize you into the academic, spiritual and social worlds of La Sierra University. An academic coach will aid with the transition to university life through class time and in weekly meetings with each student.

 

UNLEASHING THE BEAST: EXPLORING YOUR CREATIVE POTENTIAL

Instructor: Joel Haldeman, B.A.
Collaborating Faculty

Students will explore their creative side by creating works of art, including but not limited to video, poetry, and ‘writing’ a creative autobiography. The students will be given the opportunity to create something in a particular field that appeals particularly to that student. There will be guest lecturers to help create a conceptual framework for their pieces and help them think about what it means to be creative. An academic coach will aid with the transition to university life through class time and in weekly meetings with each student.

Frequent Asked Questions

This program is designed to support freshmen’s academic and social integration into university life. For students joining La Sierra during the fall term, the First-Year Experience begins during summer orientation and continues throughout the school year during the First-Year Seminar, weekly individual appointments with academic coaches, and supplemental experiences such as learning workshops and career fairs. Together these components work to provide new students with the essential tools needed for college success.

In most cases, yes. For freshmen joining La Sierra with 23 college units or less, the First-Year Seminar is required. For freshmen joining La Sierra in the fall term, participation in summer’s First-Year Orientation is also required. It is during this summer event that students are introduced to campus faculty and staff, learn about important resources, register for classes, and meet their future classmates. 
To learn about orientation or register for this event, click HERE.

For students with regular admission standing, it’s your choice! Select the University Studies 101 seminar that matches your interests. For example, are you majoring in Biology? Then you may want to select one of the seminars that focuses on animal or deep sea life. Are you a big music fan? Then join one of the seminars that explores contemporary or classical music.

Students with provisional status or students enrolled in two basic skills courses should register for University Studies 100, the enhanced version of the first-year seminar. This features additional support from faculty as well as learning communities and specialized tutoring to enrich students’ academic journeys.

Academic coaching is a working partnership focused on college success. Together with an academic coach assigned through the First-Year Seminar, each student explores learning styles, study habits, and campus resources. As a team, student and coach identify areas that may need improvement then design effective strategies to strengthen these areas. Students meet with coaches in weekly, individual sessions at the Center for Student Academic Success. 

To view a directory of our academic coaches, click HERE.

After the First-Year Experience, students are matched with faculty advisors who specialize in a student’s chosen academic field. Students consult advisors prior to registration to review course selections and other academic opportunities. Students seeking additional learning or career support may meet with mentors in the 4U College Management program. 

To read more about 4U mentoring, click HERE.