Rams 101 run as a pilot course for first-year students

Graphic by Kathleen Moore / THE GATEPOST

Rams 101 is a first-year seminar that ran as a pilot for the second year in a row this past fall for freshman first-year students. 

Sarah Mulhall Adelman, history professor, explained unlike Foundations – the existing first-year seminar – Rams 101 focuses on an “interesting topic or theme.” 

The list of topics students could choose from last fall were, “The Case for Cannabis,” “Slavery in Fact, Fiction, and Film,” “What is Love? Case Studies in Western History,” “Debating Commemoration – Monuments, Holidays, and How We Remember the Past,” “Migrations and Connections in a Global Era,” and “Better Living Through Chemistry?”

She said, “The idea is that it is a combination of that chance to do a deep dive in that seminar format, combined with the transition to college.” 

Alexander Hartwiger, English professor, said, “The idea is that all in one space, you have a lesson that’ll focus on note taking [for example], so while you’re going through the material, you’re also integrating the academic skills that would help a student be successful.”

Mulhall Adelman explained students have the choice between taking Foundations or Rams 101 but do not take both because, “it accomplishes many of the similar goals.”

She said the Rams 101 seminar aided freshmen in their academic careers – helping with note taking and study skills, as well as introducing them to resources on campus.

Aside from learning about the main topic the course is focused on, Rams 101 “includes efforts to integrate new students into the FSU community by finding opportunities for discussion and engagement with their peers in the course as well as their Rams mentor,” said Mulhall Adelman.

She explained the Rams mentor is similar to a Foundations mentor in the sense a Rams mentor is an older student who can help freshmen students register for classes and get them involved in clubs or organizations on campus.

However, Mulhall Adelman said the Rams mentors help freshmen with more than just the settling into college aspect of the course. They also help with academics.

She said the Rams 101 mentors function as supplemental instructors. 

Mulhall Adelman explained supplemental instructors are, “students who have either taken that class or been successful in similar classes.” The mentors perform the same role, attending the Rams 101 course and also holding out-of-class meeting times for additional help.

Hartwiger said, Rams 101 “allows for a deep dive [into the topic] so if students are interested in particular topics that the Rams are offering, it’s a good chance to get really immersed in it.” 

Mulhall Adelman added, unlike Foundations, Rams 101 is held during the same lecture as a class from the student’s schedule and is taught by the professor for that course. 

The program is run by Mulhall Adelman and Hartwiger.

Freshman Grace Thompson was pleased with her experience in Rams 101. She said, “I found most of the starting information useful, especially to somebody who is new to college. 

“I would [recommend Rams 101 to an incoming freshman] if they are interested in the topic, being offered because it is extra work based on that topic so it is harder than a traditional seminar class,” she said.

Freshman Emily Teabo agreed that her Rams 101 experience was a success. “The Rams 101 course that I took was very helpful. 

“It made me understand what I would be doing in school and how much free time I would need to set aside for studying and homework, so I could succeed in my classes,” she said. “Not only did it help me improve my studying habits, but it also helped me manage my time better. 

“I would 100% recommend a Rams 101 course to any upcoming freshman. It’s definitely a course that needs to be taken especially when you’re first starting college because it will really help get you prepared for what is to come,” Teabo said.

Other students who took Foundations had very different outlooks on their course. 

Freshman Corlene Guenard said she only chose Foundations because it worked best with her schedule. “I don’t think I learned anything from taking it. We just made arts and crafts, learned how to properly email teachers, and we were given lots of essays to write which weren’t useful. 

“I definitely think Rams 101 would have been more interesting or useful because it has a topic,” she said.

Freshman Mollie Pimental said, “Honestly – Foundations – I feel like it was a pointless course. 

“It did help. I learned about the Career Center and more about the Health Center, but that’s all I got from it really,” she said. “But the grade I got in Foundations was added onto my marketing grade, which was cool because it helped boost my marketing grade. 

“I also liked Foundations because I felt like I made friends in there because you got to know the kids in your marketing class a little bit better,” she said.

Freshman Yvonne Barrowman, who also took Foundations, said, “I don’t really think I benefited from anything just because we did a lot of pointless activities. But it was nice knowing I had a different teacher outside of academics that I could go to for help.”

Mulhall Adelman said both Rams 101 and Foundations will be options for next fall’s first-years as well. 

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