Student FAQs

What are First-Year Focus courses like and what are their benefits?

You can expect that your First-Year Focus class will be composed of other students living in your hall. This means you will see them frequently, and that you can talk about the course and study with them easily. Many students report that some of their first friends at WSU are people with whom they took a First-Year Focus class.

Definitely! You can expect that it will be easy to have a personal conversation with your First-Year Focus instructor. Instructors who choose to teach in this program want to have contact with their students and are especially aware of the kinds of issues and challenges that occur during a student’s first semester in college. Your instructor will be available for conversation outside of class, in events held in your residence hall, or perhaps for meals in the dining center. For example, most First-Year Focus faculty hold some of their office hours in the residence hall; many also host review sessions, workshops, film screenings, and other activities in the hall.

Yes, it will make a difference in your success, and we have the data to back that up. Taking a First-Year Focus class will give you a set of people in your hall whom you can study with, and it will also provide more opportunities for conversation and contact with your instructor. Social science studies done at a national level have shown that when students make strong connections with other students and with faculty, their success measurably improves. And at WSU, students in First-Year Focus consistently report that compared to other students, they had better personal interactions with their peers, more contact with faculty members, and stronger intention and confidence to graduate from WSU.

Yes, the First-Year Focus classes fulfill UCORE requirements and count toward graduation. This is the case because they are actually specially designated sections of standard UCORE courses taken by first-year students. That means the curriculum in a First-Year Focus course is the same as the standard UCORE course. What is different is that you are purposefully taking the course with other first-year students from your residence hall, making it vastly more convenient to connect and work with your peers, and enabling your instructor to focus their teaching and do things beneficial for first-year students which they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.

Signing up for a First-Year Focus course

This one is a little trickier to answer. First-Year Focus courses are actually specially designated sections/versions of certain UCORE courses. And those UCORE courses do fulfill graduation requirements. So technically, you are not required to enroll in the First-Year Focus version of a course; however, you might still need to take a non-First-Year Focus section/version of the same UCORE course in order to graduate! But just to be clear, should there not be a First-Year Focus version of a course available in your hall that works for your schedule or major, there is no penalty for not taking the First-Year Focus version.

Nevertheless, there are good reasons why 80 percent of the students in each entering first-year class choose to take the First-Year Focus version of their courses. Not only do First-Year Focus courses fulfill the same graduation requirements as their alternatives, they also come with the many additional benefits discussed further on this website. So why not take the enhanced, First-Year Focus version of a course that you could need to take anyway?

If you already have a housing assignment when you attend New Coug Orientation, a course associated with your hall may already be in your schedule. If you have not been pre-enrolled into a class, you will be able to choose a class from the options associated with your hall. However, you will need to visit the registration table during Alive! to be added to the course. Your advisor will work with you to make sure that the class works with your schedule and intended major.

If you change halls during the summer, you may contact the program director, Karen Weathermon, to see if there are available seats in a First-year Focus course for your new hall. If not, you may stay enrolled in your old course, but you will need to be aware that some course activities may occur in the hall associated with that course. Dr. Weathermon may be contacted at or 509-335-5488.

Unfortunately, you cannot enroll yourself into a First-Year Focus course nor swap between courses. First-Year Focus sections are blocked so that enrollment is limited to first-year students living in a particular hall. Please note that dropping your course may mean that your seat is taken by another student. If you have accidentally dropped your course and want to be re-enrolled, please contact the program director, Karen Weathermon. Dr. Weathermon may be contacted at or 509-335-5488.

There are generally at least two course options for each hall.