Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Amber Dumford, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas Miller, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Judith Ponticell, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michelle Bombaugh, Ph.D.


college freshman, college preparation, faculty interaction, research universities


First-year seminar (FYS) courses tend to focus on preparing students for successful academic and social integration into the college environment. Many of the studies on FYS courses focus on measuring outcomes such as college grades, retention, and graduation rates. While there is notable documentation of several different types of FYS courses, relatively few studies compare the different types of FYS courses. What, if any, differences might there be in the profiles of students who take either type of course? Is there a certain type of student that enrolls in the discipline-specific course, or a certain type of student that enrolls in the non-discipline specific course? This study sought to add to the literature comparing students in different types of FYS courses by examining student characteristics (high school GPA), expectations (student-faculty interactions), and patterns of major change (change over one year and change from beginning of college to graduation). Two types of FYS courses were included: non-discipline specific FYS courses (extended orientation courses focused on the transition to college) and discipline specific FYS course (included an introduction to a major or academic discipline in addition to assisting students in their academic and social development). The results indicated no statistically significant differences between type of FYS completed, in relation to the students’ prior high school GPAs, expectations for faculty-student interactions, and patterns of major change during the first year of college or from the first year of college to graduation. Only first semester college GPA was found to be significant in terms of association with major change from year one to graduation. While not the primary focus of this study, the secondary findings suggest that utilizing information about college students’ GPAs could help college administrators implement programs and services that help students select a good fit major as well as help them to persist and graduate on time.