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First Year Success Syllabus Suggestions

The FYS Team would like to offer some suggestions for how to incorporate the academic components of FYS in your class syllabus. FYS courses are structured and taught in ways similar to your non-FYS courses, though FYS courses have added resources that are available to both you (such as grant funds) and your students (such as Supplemental Instruction, co-curricular events, and peer mentoring). Making these resources explicit to your students will help them make the most of their first year at MSU Denver. We also encourage you to make all your expectations and requirements explicit to your students. They will appreciate your guidance as they transition into college.


FYS supports each faculty member’s judgment in how best to incorporate these components for any particular course section. However, we do highly recommend that you consider the following inclusions in your FYS syllabus. To encourage this, we will continue our tradition of offering faculty incentives for intentional FYS course design and integration, such as our Syllabus Contest, Coffee Talk, and Paired Course Text Requests.  Please see the flyers that follow for details on these incentives.


General FYS statement

  • “This course is part of the MSU Denver First Year Success program (FYS). FYS provides students with many benefits designed to enrich their time here such as a collegial learning environment, supplemental programming, and enhanced support services designed to promote academic and personal success. If you have questions about the program, visit the FYS suite in Student Success Building 217, call 303-352-4195, or go to Advising questions can be directed to our Academic Advisor via e-mail:”


Paired Course Information & Integration

  • If your course is linked, mention what course is paired with yours along with the name of the instructor.
  • Ideally, faculty paired together in a learning community will discuss possible avenues of integration prior to the beginning of the term. FYS recommends intentionally integrating your course with the paired course in such a way that supports or enriches the learning outcomes of both courses. This may be done through reading assignments, writing exercises, oral components, co-curricular activities, etc.
  • FYS offers support to faculty who would like to plan and implement new activities or content into FYS courses. Please find these applications in Section IV of this Guide.


Student Ambassador Statement

  • “Student Ambassadors are peer leaders and mentors who provide students with an access point to information and resources across campus. Your Student Ambassador will be in touch throughout the semester and can be reached through the First Year Success office.”
  • It would be helpful to students to include the name of your Student Ambassador on the syllabus, along with his/her contact information.
  • More information on the role of Student Ambassadors can be found in Section III.


Supplemental Instruction Statement

  • “Supplemental Instruction (SI) is an academic assistance program that is meant to increase student performance. Supplemental Instruction provides regularly scheduled, out-of-class, peer facilitated sessions. These sessions provide students with an interactive, systematic and disciplined approach for learning course content and developing appropriate academic skills.”
  • Your syllabus should also indicate your expectations for participation in SI and to what extent SI will be required and included as part of the total student grade.
  • To make the most of this unique opportunity, FYS recommends that faculty require students to participate in 10 hours of Supplemental Instruction or provide extra credit for participating. Faculty should also consider whether students who demonstrate excellence throughout the term could earn “bonus hours” that count toward their SI grade. Alternatively, consider whether or not you’d like to include other activities as substitutes for this component.
  • It would be helpful to students to include the name of your Supplemental Instruction Leader on the syllabus, along with his/her contact information.
  • More information on Supplemental Instruction can be found in Section III.


Co-curricular Activities

  • FYS encourages the integration of co-curricular events with your curriculum that support your learning outcomes. These do not have to be official FYS events and can be selected from co-curricular opportunities from any organization on campus.
  • Descriptions of FYS programming—including Cultivating Connections, Mid-Week 10 Seminars, Lunch-and-Learns, and PowerSacks—are provided later in this section.
  • FYS co-curricular events are also included in the Events Calendar and mini-grants are available for you to create your own event.


Joint Reading: Three Little Words

  • We encourage all FYS faculty to adopt our Joint Reading, Three Little Words, as a required text for their courses.
  • In order to receive free copies for all your FYS students, please:
  • Demonstrate how Three Little Words will be integrated into your class as a required text, using it to support your existing learning outcomes.
  • Submit your syllabus to the FYS office (
  • First Year Success students are eligible to receive free copies even when the book is not an official text in their class. Have your interested students contact the FYS office directly for more information on program participation requirements.

Please find more details regarding events and activities surrounding Three Little Words, as well as a Reading and Learning Guide for 2016-2017 Book Selection to Three Little Words here.

Syllabus Examples

Below are several examples of syllabi created by faculty who have participated in teaching a First Year Success class in the past.

Sample Syllabus 1

Sample Syllabus 2

Sample Syllabus 3

Sample Syllabus 4

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