First-Year Experience

Class on the lawn

Our First-Year Experience Program is designed to aid in the transition from high school to college life. The program consists of a combination of academic and co-curricular programs that connect these two areas of life at GMC.

Your student has already begun the first year experience by participating in our outdoor wilderness challenge or on-campus orientation programs.  Our institutional research shows that students who take advantage of these programs are better connected and more likely to persist towards graduation.  Ask your child questions about how these experiences helped them to develop a social group and get to know the campus. 

In addition to these orientation programs, your student will engage in the following classes as their first year curriculum:

Images of Nature and Culture

This introduction to your Green Mountain College education and our beautiful bioregion explores some of the ways in which we make sense of the human and ecological systems which surround us. Students choose their section from various topics, while all students experience a few common texts that consider our place in the world. The course begins to develop college writing through essays and journaling while frequent field trips help root students in their new home while they test ideas from classroom readings. This 4-credit course is required of all students, so there will be a lot of discussion about it among your student’s peers!  One credit of this course will include campus support services information, study skills, and local field trips aimed at acclimating students to the cultural and ecological benefits of Vermont's Lakes Region.   

The ELA portfolio is begun in this course and students will continue to build it in each of the subsequent core courses in the ELA program.  The cornerstone of the portfolio is the "Academic Path," which asks your student to start thinking about how they want to maximize their college experience by outlining curricular and co-curricular goals for their first semester, their GMC career, and post-graduation.  This is a fluid document that your student will be able to revise in each core ELA course:  Images of Nature, Voices of Community, Dimensions of Nature, and A Delicate Balance.

One section of our first-year seminar is listed as a ‘Living and Learning’ community.  If your child is in this section, they will be engaging in community conversations in the residential halls outside of classroom hours.  Student will be offered a range of additional residential events including movies, discussion groups, and themed dinners.

You will learn more about the Images of Nature and Culture curriculum in Lesson 2.

Voices of Community

Building on the writing skills developed in Images of Nature and Culture, Voices of Community provides students with more extensive practice in composition and revision, aimed at preparing them for upper-level college work. The critical thinking and communication skills learned in this course enable informed participation in diverse social and ecological contexts and just and sustainable communities. The course culminates in a “Voices Celebration” which brings all sections of the course together to share the various ways that community has been explored during the semester.


Convocation is the traditional, ceremonial opening of the academic year. Faculty and staff formally welcome the new and returning students to campus. Each convocation has a welcome address by the Student Government President as well as a keynote speaker who will engage social and environmental sustainability. Convocation is scheduled for Thursday, August 31st at 4pm.  All students should meet in Withey Hall where they will process together with the faculty to the  College's outdoor Labyrinth, a traditional space of reflection and enlightenment.

This year's Convocation speaker is Rockey Robbins, Professor of Counseling Psychology at the University of Oklahoma.  His speech, titled “Education for the Well Being of the Land and the People,” will explore connections between Green Mountain's environmental liberal arts education and Native American philosophies of nature.  Students will be able to have dinner with Professor Robbins in the dining hall.

Last modified: Wednesday, 24 May 2017, 9:16 AM