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Peer advisors join Celia Norcross, director of student development and engagement (center), in showing off the 2020 First Year Experience T-shirts. From left are Stephanie Collins '18, Nikki LoGiudice '17, Travis Rice '17 and Jared Freeman '18.

It’s All Here: First Year Experience


Find more information about the First Year Experience, including a full schedule and information about Convocation, here. 

New students will jump into the MCLA experience this fall with a variety of activities that not only will immerse them in college, but help them discover what life and learning at MCLA are all about.

The First Year Experience (FYE) embraces a wide variety of activities, including a number of events that have become traditions at MCLA.

The 22nd hike up Mt. Greylock – Massachusetts’ highest peak – is an event that the entire campus and much of the greater community looks forward to each year. Scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 18, it illustrates the heights students can reach during their time at MCLA.

At the top, they’ll enjoy breath-taking views from the summit, which just happens to be the setting for Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s latest story, The Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Over the summer, freshman read author Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. On Thursday, Sept. 29, they’ll join a Community Reading Book Panel Discussion.

According to Dr. Zack Finch, an FYE program organizer and assistant professor of English/communications, the book speaks directly to fundamental components of the liberal arts experience – the essential role of conversation, the importance of empathy, and the significance of solitary reflection for dynamic interpersonal and public dialogue.

“Turkle’s research, about the potential challenges raised by the ubiquity of smart phones, is significant because it asks our students to think reflectively and critically about their own daily practices,” Finch said. 

FYE also includes the 2016 Speakers Program, which allows students to hear from a wide variety of distinguished speakers about some of the most significant matters of our times.

The Hardman Lecture, the Sixth Annual Michael S. and Kitty Dukakis Public Policy Lecture, and the Elizabeth and Lawrence Vadnais Environmental Issues Lecture all are free and open to the public.

Students will hear from Hardman speaker Abderrahim Foukara, Al Jazeera Satellite Channel’s Washington, D.C., bureau chief, on Thursday, Oct. 13, when he speaks on the “Media Portrayal of Islam.”

Also, ABC and NPR political commentator Cokie Roberts will discuss the 2016 presidential election on Thursday, Nov. 3, in a public policy lecture. Lastly, this fall’s Vadnais Lecture will feature Dr. John Harris, executive director of the Monadnock Institute of Nature, Place and Culture, who will speak on his book, Returning North with the Spring.

New also students take FYE courses, which are designed to assist them with their transition to college as they integrate extracurricular activities within an academic context.

“We want to introduce first-year students to the plethora of exciting intellectual and cultural events happening on campus,” Finch said. “We hope that FYE courses will showcase what liberal arts learning is all about – holistic, interdisciplinary learning that takes place inside and outside of the classroom.”

The Hardman Lecture is made possible through the generosity of the Hardman Family Endowment. The Public Policy Lecture Series is made possible through the generosity of the Ruth Proud Charitable Trust.