First College Year

The First College Year program integrates students into the college community as engaged learners and participants in campus life and facilitates the transition to college.

Learning Communities: Choose Your Own Adventure at Brooklyn College

In order to create the best possible First College Year experience for you, your first semester is designed primarily around First-year Learning Communities. A First-year Learning Community is a cluster of two to three linked courses reserved for first-semester students. Participating in a learning community will make it easier for you to meet new friends, form study groups, share notes, and prepare for exams. Of students who participate, 85 percent find it a highly positive experience and would recommend it to their friends. 

First-year Common Reading

The common reading will:

  • allow first-year students from widely diverse communities to feel ownership of a common intellectual experience;
  • create opportunities for students to engage deeply with each other and with faculty, administrators and staff from across the college;
  • foster a sense of social and academic community;
  • advance the college's commitment to incorporate principles of diversity and inclusion into the classroom and curriculum and promote peer-to-peer dialogue; and
  • promote learning how to read and discuss a high-quality literary text.

Meet the Author

Each fall, the author of the Common Reading visits the college. We ask visiting authors to give a brief introduction of their work, telling students how they came to write this particular book, what most intrigued them about the subject and what challenges the writing presented.

See Your Work in Print

During the semester, first-year English classes will move on to the study of expository reading and writing. Instructors will submit the best of their students' responses, generated by assignments based on the Common Reading text, to a committee of English Department colleagues. The committee members review all submissions and make selections for publication in the student anthology, Telling Our Stories, Sharing Our Lives.

Faculty Respond to This Year's Selection

Do you want to know what Brooklyn College faculty members have to say about this year's selection for the First-year Common Reading? Think of this as the first of many conversations with faculty as you begin your journey at Brooklyn College.

Past Selections

2014: Little Failure, by Gary Shteyngart
2013: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz
2012: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
2011: Brother, I'm Dying, by Edwidge Danticat
2010: How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? by Moustafa Bayoumi
2009: Dreams From My Father, by Barack Obama
2008: Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri
2007: Disappointment Artist, by Jonathan Lethem
2006: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer
2005: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers
2004: Angela's Ashes, by Frank McCourt

Selection Process

  • The Office of the Associate Provost for Academic Programs publicizes the criteria for the reading.
  • The Office of the Associate Provost for Academic Programs creates a drop-box to collect suggestions from Brooklyn College faculty, staff and undergraduate students. (Note: The deadline for fall 2014 has passed; any new submissions will be considered for fall 2015.)
  • The English Composition faculty vets the recommendations for suitability for use in English 1010 and forwards three to five titles to the First College Year Advisory Board.
  • The First College Year Advisory Board makes the final selection.