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Undergraduate Study

Newly Admitted Students

SMC Office of the Registrar and Student Services


July 9, 2014

Greetings from the Office of the Registrar and Student Services at St. Michael’s College.

1. Three interesting possibilities available only in first year

This Bulletin will look at three activities which are available only to students in their first year of university. Two are courses and the third is not a course but actually refers to a cluster of courses which are program related.

These are the First Year Foundation courses, First year seminars (also called 199 courses) and First Year Learning Communities (or FLCs).

The First year Foundation courses are eight small classes available only to first year students. Each of the seven colleges offers a Foundation course and the eighth is offered by the Munk School of Global Affairs. Students at any college can apply for any of the eight but we are particularly proud of the St Mike’s Cornerstone course and encourage applications from new St Mike’s students. As you will see applications remain open in six of the eight programs.

The SMC Cornerstone course offers something out of the ordinary. It will take students out of the classroom and off campus three hours a week. This course will appeal to students interested in social justice and community building. Participants might work in a homeless shelter or a long-term care facility. They might do advocacy work for a local non-governmental organization or might work in community economic development. It is a certainty that students in the Cornerstone course will be introduced to new and perhaps unexplored aspects of life in Toronto.

First year seminars are small classes (no more than 24 students) available only to first year students. They are often called 199 courses because the course code is always 199. This year there are over 120 different 199 courses and around 2000 first year students will enroll in one. They are very popular because the small class size offers a welcome contrast to the large classes which are common in first year.

There are a couple of points to keep in mind. Some 199 courses are sponsored by a college and give priority to students of that college. The best place to see this information is in the 199 timetable.

The other point is that the course codes are a bit mysterious – CCR, TBB, SII, LTE, MPU and XBC. These codes actually refer to the five breadth categories and are explained under the third bullet at First Year Seminars.

First year learning communities or FLCs (pronounced flicks) are not courses. A FLC is a group of 25-30 students who are taking at least one or more courses together. The focus of the FLCs vary and include life sciences, Rotman commerce, social sciences, computer science economics and others. Students meet on a regular basis outside of class to discuss their progress and to engage in social activities. Since space is limited in FLCs and, since one of the objectives of the program is to create a sense of community, FLCs give priority to students who live off campus although some space is available to students living in residence.

You will see that there are four FLCS specifically for St Mike’s students. Two are in the life sciences, and two are in Commerce. St Mike students can also apply for spots in all the other FLCs. Membership in a FLC is by application only and applications must be submitted by July 18. The time to apply is right now.

FLCs have proven to be quite popular but there is one limitation which you have to keep in mind. Since all students in a FLC are taking from one to three courses together, students have to accept the schedule of the FLC. For example, see one of the St Mikes life science FLCs

Students in this FLC have to accept this schedule for BIO, CHM, MAT and the FLC meeting time. This means that other courses have to be built around this specific schedule.

2. FAQs

A student asked if it was possible to take a First Year Foundation course and a 199 course.

Victoria College and Trinity College won't permit a student to do their Foundation course and a 199 course. The other six Foundation Courses are fine with the combination.

Is it a good idea? Generally – no.

There are really two types of first year courses - the majority which prepare you for admission to the various programs and the minority which aid in the transition to university - mainly through small classes like the Foundation and the 199 courses.

The Foundation and the 199s are terminal courses in the sense that, with rare exception, they are not part of programs. They rarely open doors to programs. So, to the extent that you take one of these courses, it means that you aren't taking a course which potentially could be part of a program.

If you take 5.0 courses and 1.0 is a transition course, that is generally fine. You still have 4.0 courses which are preparing you for programs. If you take 5.0 courses and 2.0 are transition courses then only 3.0 of your courses are preparing you for a program.

The risk may outweigh the benefit at that point.

We see very few students enrolling in a Foundation course and a 199 course.

Damon Chevrier