First-year success courses
VCU strongly encourages all incoming first-year students to enroll in at least one First-Year Student Success course. These courses count toward graduation requirements and meet only once a week for 50 minutes.
National research shows that these first-year courses greatly impact the overall grade performance of students and also improve how connected a student feels to their university (thus improving their persistence in college and their GPA).
These courses are taught by our academic advisors, financial aid counselors, campus leaders and student affairs professionals interested in connecting to first-year students based on their interests, fears, aspirations and career goals.
First-Year Student Success courses include:
- Introduction to the University (UNIV 101)
- I Want to Get Involved on Campus But I Am Not Sure How
- “I Can Get Help With That?” Stronger Study Strategies and Less Procrastination
- Introduction to Career Planning and Management
- ¡Adelante!: The Path to Success at VCU
- Dynamic Principles for Professional Development: For Men of Color
- Leadership Development for Women of Color
- Navigating LGBTQ Pride at VCU and RVA
- Business Foundation (BFO) Student Success
- Maximizing VCUarts Foundation
- Professional Practice for Fashion Majors
- How to Thrive as a Music Major
- Building a Fantastic (Mass Comm) Foundation
- Professional Planning for Pre-Nursing Majors
- Professional Planning for Pre-Clinical Radiation Majors
- Professional Planning for Pre-Dental Hygiene Majors
- Principles of Success for Pre-Professional Health Students
- Urban Education and Experience
- YouFirst @ VCU
- Navigating the Transition to VCU
- Profiles in Leadership: Deepening your influence at VCU
- Purpose and Belonging
- The Science of Recovery
- Getting Connected
- Maximizing Your Global Learning
- Financing Your Future
- Well-Being in College
- Writing with Confidence
Introduction to the University (UNIV 101)
Designed to orient new students to the traditions, purposes and expectations of a university education. Students will assess their expectations and evaluate their academic strengths and goals. Students will learn of VCU resources designed to help them solve problems and to achieve a rewarding and successful academic program.
I Want to Get Involved on Campus But I Am Not Sure How?
This course is for students seeking opportunities to find new friends who share like ideas or for students who know that they need to get out more socially and just are not sure where to start or what great opportunities exist on campus. During this course, students explore VCU student clubs and organizations, leadership opportunities, VCU and RVA community events, and begin to open doors to where they can find their niche at VCU.
“I Can Get Help With That?” Stronger Study Strategies and Less Procrastination
Come join us to learn how to make your study time count, get assignments done faster and learn all the ways VCU can help you with your academics. Topics include learning about tutoring, Supplemental Instruction, writing consultations, and fantastic (easy to do) study strategies. Say goodbye to wasted time and procrastination. This is a great way to decrease your academic stress and increase your productivity.
Introduction to Career Planning & Management
Find out how to connect your major to careers while learning more about yourself through guided self-exploration. Explore ways to gain experience while you are at VCU that will be useful to your future plans. Discover how you can start planning your career now and manage it long-term. We lay the foundation for a productive four-year graduation rate that leads to gainful and self-fulfilling employment!
The Path to Success at VCU! The purpose of the course is to empower, connect, and support new students who identify as Latinx/Hispanic (or their allies). Through in-depth discussions, guest speakers, and group projects, students will learn how to build their skills, set achievable goals, and create a culture of collaboration, in order to become the leaders they were destined to be. Students will also be assigned a Guia/Guide or mentor. These mentors will assist students with the transition to collegiate life, create programs to encourage active involvement in the academic and social life of the campus, and assist in promoting campus pride and cohesiveness among students. The course will focus on study skills and exam skills, writing skills, career exploration and planning, getting connected on campus, and building faculty/student engagement.
Dynamic Principles for Professional Development: For Men of Color
This class is designed to build community among men of color. Students explore internships and leadership opportunities on campus and focus on professional development. Each student is connected to a campus navigator to aid you in your adjustment to campus and a professional navigator, a person in your desired field of study. The class explores issues that men face in college and beyond through discussions and guest speakers.
Leadership Development for Women of Color
The purpose of the course is to empower undergraduate African-American women to break through the barriers that impede their professional growth. Through in-depth discussions, guest speakers, and group projects, students will learn how to build their leadership brand, set SMART goals, and create a culture of collaboration, in order to become the leaders they were destined to be. Students will also be assigned a LeadHER (mentor) within the LeadHERs Mentoring Program. LeadHERs assist students with the transition to collegiate life, creates programs to encourage active involvement in the academic and social life of the campus, and assist in promoting campus pride and cohesiveness among students.
Navigating LGBTQ Pride at VCU and RVA
This course is for students who want to connect and identify with their surrounding LGBT and ally community. Topics covered include an exploration and reflection of self and society through current events, local resources, and academic readings/films. This class welcomes members of the community and allies to engage in a timely, essential, and semester-long conversation.
Business Foundation (BFO) Student Success
Orients new business foundation students to ensure a successful first semester and transition to the university setting. The course will focus on academic resources, exploring various business majors and career options, developing peer mentoring and alumni connections, and creating individualized professional development plans that will carry students through their four years at VCU and lead to successful career outcomes.
Maximizing VCUarts Foundation
This module provides students new to the VCUarts' Foundation program a more thorough guidance on the resources, opportunities and potential of VCUarts. Experience facility tours, visiting lecturers and unique introductions to major options while exploring arts career potential. Students also have an opportunity to actively navigate AFO-specific challenges with supportive peer and instructor feedback.
Professional Practice for Fashion Majors
This class will focus on jump-starting the student’s professional focus. This class will meet with local fashion boutiques, give engaging presentations, plan in detail your study abroad, and build/polish your personal brand.
How to Thrive as a Music Major
Life as a music major can be intense, exhilarating, overwhelming, and exhausting. While most students take four or five classes a semester, music students are often juggling up to ten or eleven! This course is designed to give you the essential skills and knowledge to help you tackle life as a music major and to keep your love of music alive, even in the midst of the crazy. Topics include: beating procrastination, handling performance anxiety, practicing strategies, and how to maximize your chances of succeeding in a music career after college.
Building a Fantastic (Mass Comm) Foundation
Are you a Mass Communications major? Wondering about the difference between creative and strategic advertising? Want to know more about media production? Curious how your interest in media can impact your classes and your first year? This course will introduce you to the Mass Communications major and assist you in connecting your interests with your major requirements and opportunities at VCU. Get a jump start on understanding your foundation (advertising, journalism, media production, or public relations), using media as a lens to view your first year, and tailoring your mass communications experience.
Professional Planning for Pre-Nursing Majors
This course is designed for pre-nursing students and course topics will include how to be a competitive candidate for the nursing application process, investigating multiple pathways to the Nursing profession, and exploring additional healthcare and helping related fields. Students will learn how to navigate the high school to college transition through utilizing university resources and setting academic and professional goals.
Professional Planning for Pre-Clinical Radiation Majors
This course is designed for pre-radiation sciences students and course topics will include how to be a competitive candidate for the clinical radiation sciences application process, investigating multiple pathways to the profession, and exploring additional healthcare and helping related fields. Students will learn how to navigate the high school to college transition through utilizing university resources and setting academic and professional goals.
Professional Planning for Pre-Dental Hygiene Majors
This course is designed for pre-dental hygiene students and course topics will include how to be a competitive candidate for the dental hygiene application process, investigating multiple pathways to the profession, and exploring additional healthcare and helping related fields. Students will learn how to navigate the high school to college transition through utilizing university resources and setting academic and professional goals.
Principles of Success for Pre-Professional Health Students
This course is geared for students who are working towards a career in medicine, dentistry, physician assistant, physical therapist, occupational therapy, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, or optometry. The overarching objective of this course is to foster student success through the practice of positive psychology, evidence-based management of stress/ anxiety, and utilizing practical tools to optimize intellectual and educational opportunities. Emphasis will be placed on ethical behavior, conscious communication, and the importance of community involvement.
Urban Education and Experience
In this course, students will have the opportunity to explore the challenges of access and equality in urban educational settings. Engage in discussions around how personal identity impacts educational experience. Students will actively participate and learn about grassroots projects that help the Richmond community.
YouFirst @ VCU
Are you a first-generation college student? Not sure? If neither of your parents or legal guardians earned a bachelor's degree, then you are a first-generation student. Did you know that almost one-third of VCU’s first-year class are first-gen students? This course is designed to help you get connected to other first-generation students as well as the academic and social resources that will help you achieve your goals. We hope you’ll join us this fall!
Navigating the Transition to VCU - Access, Accommodations, and Self-Advocacy
The purpose of this class is to help students with disabilities make a successful transition to VCU. This course will provide opportunities for students to develop and hone their unique skills as new members of the VCU community through working with their peers and receiving guided direction and feedback. We will focus on the development and growth of various skills related to academics, work and personal needs and skills, social engagement, proper accommodation usage, and self-advocacy. The course will help students learn about resources and techniques that aid in reducing the barriers that are often common in traditional learning programs.
Profiles in Leadership: Deepening your Influence at VCU
Leadership changes the world! This class will introduce students to leadership from a variety of viewpoints/perspectives and discuss how to deepen their influence in the VCU community and beyond. Students will discuss the ways in which their own leadership development can contribute to their success both in and outside of the classroom.
Purpose and Belonging
Students will discover or confirm their motivation in this class. The focus will be to help students live with purpose and enhance their feeling of belonging at VCU. The class will be highly collaborative and energetic. Students will discover and share what really matters to them. They will uncover a new vision for their future through a variety of activities. This curriculum was developed with the backing of the most up-to-date social science. We are excited to share this holistic view of student support with the VCU community.
The Science of Recovery
VCU loves students in recovery from addiction. Learn about the science of recovery, build recovery skills, learn about resources in our community and beyond, and find meaningful ways to be of service. Through lectures, guest speakers and individual projects, students will learn of VCU resources designed to help them in their recovery and build a rewarding and successful life and career.
This course helps students discover opportunities for civic engagement in VCU and the Greater Richmond community. This community-based class is for first-year students across the volunteer spectrum. If you’re a hands-on learner or ready to develop your résumé, if you’re interested in human rights, social justice, or just getting out of your comfort zone, if you’re wondering how to immerse yourself at an urban institution like VCU, this course is for you.
Maximizing Your Global Learning
This course focuses on global learning and is open to students of all majors. This course introduces key skills in developing cultural agility including empathy and perspective-taking. Students will learn about the variety of global learning experiences available and how to prepare for a study away experience. Students will be better equipped to navigate cultures both in the US and abroad.
Financing Your Future
This course allows students to explore what their financial future holds. Topics discussed include the financial resources available to finance college such as financial aid; managing money and cash flow; establishing financial goals and understanding their impact; and recognizing the benefits of healthy financial decisions as well as the consequences of unhealthy financial decisions.
Well-Being in College
This course is designed to provide first-year students with the knowledge and skills needed to promote positive well-being and navigate some of the challenges students face outside the classroom. Students will be able to identify and connect with specific resources at VCU designed to support well-being, understand how well-being is linked to academic success, and practice skills to help them live their best lives in college and beyond.
Writing with Confidence
Transitioning from high school to college writing is a challenging yet exciting journey. This course will facilitate your growth as a confident,
skilled academic writer. Taught by a VCU Writing Center administrator, we will use time-tested, student-focused writing resources and short, contemporary readings for discussion and reflection. By exploring your writing process throughout the semester, upon successful completion of this course, you will be more comfortable with a wide array of writing assignments, styles, and techniques.
Major maps combine academic planning and strategic career planning to allow students to create individualized success plans so that they can achieve their professional and academic goals upon graduation. We focus on the student's end goal and work backward - determining what courses, experiences, connections and skills will best position the student as a competitive, working professional after graduation. Major maps connect students to the people, resources and activities that will maximize their VCU experience.
Visit the Major Maps website for more information.
Living-Learning Communities or LLC's are specialized residential environments designed to integrate on-campus living with a focused academic experience. The mix of curricular and co-curricular activities inside and outside of the classroom enables students to fully engage in their VCU experience and learn to encounter real-world experiences with an interdisciplinary approach.
VCU Common Book
Building upon the nationally recognized Summer Reading program, the VCU Common Book is a university-wide initiative focused on welcoming our first-year students into the vibrant intellectual culture of VCU. The Common Book is intended to create the opportunity to explore complex social issues through an interdisciplinary lens.