First Term Seminar (FTS)

As part of their first semester course schedule, students entering Gustavus Adolphus College as first-year students enroll in one course designated FTS-100: First-Term Seminar (FTS). 

Greg Kaster leads a class discussion in his FTS class (Photo by Nick Theisen ’15).

Academic Skills

The FTS is a small, discussion-based course, that introduces students to skills and habits of mind central to the liberal arts: critical thinking, writing, and speaking. While practicing these skills and habits, students explore and develop values as they consider enduring and contemporary questions or challenges. Thus, FTS promotes empathetically examining the values of others and reflecting upon, developing, and articulating one’s own values. This focus on values permeates the FTS Program, shaping all of its goals.

Critical Thinking involves applying reason to ideas, a willingness to consider the perspectives and values of others, and an awareness of the limits of any given epistemology.

Writing and Speaking are creative and critical processes that students use to engage with others. Good writers and speakers accommodate different purposes, contexts, and audiences. These rhetorical choices help communicators make their cases in the most effective ways possible.


In addition, a student's FTS professor serves as their academic advisor until they declare a major or are admitted into a certification program (e.g., Athletic Training, Education, Exercise Physiology, Nursing). Each FTS carries a WRIT designation; FTS courses do not carry a general education core area designation. A full list and description of FTS offerings is published for entering students before registration.

Advising emphasizes an introduction to College resources and the College curriculum, encourages students to explore their values, and fosters a mentoring community on campus. FTS professors work alongside students to plan their liberal arts education, refer them to campus resources, and help them think about possibilities for their college career and beyond.

FTS also partners with the Peer Mentor, Academic Leader, and Teacher (Peer MALT) Program, which brings returning Gustavus students (typically in their third- and fourth-year) into the FTS classroom each week to share their own experiences and knowledge of campus resources while delivering the Advising Curriculum. 

Learn more about FTS and other Graduation Requirements: 

 Graduation Requirements in the Academic Catalog

Are you a faculty member looking for FTS resources? Go to the FTS Program Moodle site. If you need access, email the FTS Director.