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First Year Experience

When you enroll at CSU, Chico, you are entering more than a school; you are, in fact, entering a community. The word "community" comes from the Latin word communis, meaning "common" or "shared." The First Year Experience program is one important way the University seeks to introduce you to this new community, intellectually and socially. The First Year Experience is designed to ensure a smooth transition to university life and includes courses, services and programs built on shared goals and shared experiences.

The goals of the First Year Experience program are to:

  1. Provide you with opportunities to forge connections with other students, faculty, staff, and with CSU, Chico's rich resources and facilities.
  2. Give you the tools you need to set clear academic, career, and personal goals, and to develop strategies for achieving them. Build your foundational intellectual skills including critical thinking, verbal and written expression, and quantitative reasoning.
  3. Engage you in a coherent learning experience, one that provides the knowledge, skills, and moral and intellectual values that form the basis for life-long learning and personal growth.
  4. Lead you towards new and diverse ideas, viewpoints, and people; to help you explore opinions and values different from your own.
  5. Make available opportunities for service to the community, participatory citizenship, and environmental awareness that can enrich your personal identity and your relationship to the world.

There are many parts of the First Year Experience that contribute to your success, including Residential Life, Advising, the Book in Common, and a variety of student organizations and leadership opportunities on and off campus, many of which are described elsewhere in the Catalog.

At the heart of the First Year Experience are two course-based opportunities that you should be aware of: CourseLINK and UNIV 101: Introduction to University Life.


The CourseLINK program allows you to access a block of two to three courses required for first-year students. In some cases CourseLINKs are designed around a theme or a specific major. In all cases, the courses involved fulfill graduation requirements. About thirty CourseLINKs are offered each fall semester. CourseLINKs change from year-to-year, so check the current schedule for availability.

The CourseLINK program has been developed to enhance academic life for first-year students in several ways. Each block of courses accommodates twenty-five students. Participants therefore are part of an active community with twenty-four other students who are sharing three courses and many of the same academic experiences. This community allows collaborative learning and studying, increased opportunities to share and discuss ideas, and the possibility of integrated social and academic activities.

Getting to know the other students in your classes gives you an important advantage-it makes it easier to form study groups, to share lecture notes, and makes it more comfortable to participate and ask questions in class. CourseLINK allows you to make friends more easily because you will meet regularly with people taking the same courses.

Registration in a CourseLINK does not mean, however, that you will spend your first semester with only the twenty-four other students in your block. Frequently, your group of twenty-five will be part of a larger class which includes one or more additional groups of twenty-five students. In this way, you will enjoy the benefits both of the more intimate community of the twenty-four students who will share several classes with you, and the opportunity to meet many other students.

CourseLINKs are prominently listed in the schedule of courses on the University webpage. You will also be given the opportunity to enroll in CourseLINKs at Summer Orientation. Be sure to consider CourseLINKs for your General Education requirements.

UNIV 101: Introduction to University Life

Joining any new community always involves a period of transition and adjustment. UNIV 101: Introduction to University Life is one of many ways that CSU, Chico welcomes you to our community and helps with this transition. UNIV 101 is a comprehensive introduction to university life that will help prepare you for the academic, social and other challenges that you face as a new member of the campus and larger Chico community.

University 101 covers diverse topics, including the academic expectations of college and how to meet them, knowledge of campus resources and organization, and the role of service in creating a responsible and engaged citizenry. UNIV 101 classes are capped at 25 students, giving you the chance to meet your fellow students, discover common interests and concerns, as well as to get to know and consult your instructor. National and local statistics indicate that students who enroll in this kind of orientation course improve their chances of remaining in college and achieve an improved GPA over those who decide not to take advantage of the opportunity to take such a course.

An important dimension of UNIV 101 is discussing and reflecting on the Book in Common. The Book in Common is selected each year by faculty, staff and students as a common reading for first-year students. The Book in Common provides an engaging introduction to important themes confronting university students and society as a whole. Past Books in Common include Fast Food Nation, True Notebooks, and Never Let Me Go. A variety of important events and activities occur in connection with the Book in Common, including discussion groups, speakers, and other special events. See for more information.

UNIV 101 provides a context for intellectual engagement, sharing of mutual concerns, a guide to campus resources, and preparation for a successful university experience. UNIV 101 also fulfills General Education Area E requirements. You will be provided with information on how to register for UNIV 101 at Summer Orientation.

Catalog Cycle:11