The Academic Experience

Freshman Scholars in the lab.

At the heart of the FSI program is an immersive and rewarding academic experience. Students take two, full credit-bearing courses that count toward graduation requirements. All FSI courses are taught by members of the Princeton faculty; they engage students in common Princeton teaching and learning situations--from small seminars to large lectures--and give them an opportunity to enter scholarly conversations, collaborate to solve problems, and produce original research. 

All scholars will have the opportunity to take “Ways of Knowing” (HUM 250/STC 250), an immersive, small seminar course that empowers first-year students to become active producers of knowledge in an academic community by introducing them to scholarly ways of thinking, reading, and writing across the University.  In this course, students will analyze and engage a variety of multidisciplinary and multi-generic texts that stage inquiries into a shared topic of intellectual and social concern. In Summer 2019, Ways of Knowing will focus on the broad theme of “Power and Institutions.” Through this multidisciplinary exploration, students will gain an understanding of the diverse—and intersecting—ways that scholars ask questions and generate knowledge. Most importantly, students will use this understanding to make their own academic contribution to this scholarly conversation. 

In addition to “Ways of Knowing,” scholars will be placed into one of three quantitative courses based on the best fit for their academic interests: “Visualizing Data” (POL 245), “Laboratory Research in the Life Sciences” (MOL 152), or “Foundations of Engineering” (EGR/STC 150).

  • “Visualizing Data" (POL 245) is a precept-based course in which students work together to consider ways to illustrate compelling stories hidden in a blizzard of data. Equal parts art, programming, and statistical reasoning, data visualization is a critical tool for anyone doing analysis. This course introduces students to the powerful R programming language and the basics of creating data-analytic graphics in R. Students use real datasets to explore topics ranging from network data (like social interactions on Facebook or trade between countries) to geographical data (like county-level election returns in the US or the spatial distribution of insurgent attacks in Afghanistan).
  • "Laboratory Research in the Life Sciences” (MOL 152) is an experiential lab course in which students engage in original laboratory research. Although lecture and discussion will be incorporated as needed, by far the largest part of the course will consist of authentic hands-on research carried out by student teams. Students will learn how to perform essential laboratory techniques, to design experiments, and to analyze and interpret experimental data. Students will gain experience in both written and oral presentation of scientific results. In 2019, the research focus will be "Biological GPS: Migration of Cells in Living Organisms."
  • "Foundations of Engineering" (EGR /STC 150) is an experiential lab course that provides a hands-on introduction to the foundational principles of engineering. It provides a project-based introduction to engineering that mixes electronics, mechanical construction, and computational data analysis while providing a firm theoretical foundation for the project in both math and physics. In lab, students will have the opportunity to build, test, and iterate the design of a fast-moving drone. Students will also engage in lectures and precepts to enhance their physics and mathematics content knowledge.

In addition to these academic courses, co-curricular workshops introduce students to campus resources and help them to enhance their learning strategies. Scholars work collaboratively with their peers, including experienced peer tutors and course fellows, to draft and revise papers, lab reports, and presentations and to tackle various problem-solving assignments.


FSI student.

"Throughout Ways of Knowing, I greatly matured.  It was not simply a transition from high school to college, but an intense development in my analysis of my own beliefs as well as those of others...I come out of this class knowing that I have conquered this challenge. I know going into the school year what to expect, and I have a newfound confidence that I can handle it."

Freshman Scholar, Class of 2013