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FIGs Main Image

First-year Interest Groups

First-year Interest Groups ("FIGs") refer to small clusters of linked courses. Each course in a FIG has the same group of students in it. The instructors of these linked courses organize the material they teach around common themes. FIGs feature collaborative teaching by instructors to reinforce the common themes of their linked courses and cooperative learning by students through the formation of study groups.

Enrollment in a FIG provides its participants with many opportunities to interact closely with classmates outside of the residence halls, helps to avoid the problem of having separate courses without any overlap whatsoever in their respective contents, and facilitates the progress of first-year students toward their undergraduate degrees.

According to research undertaken by colleges throughout the country, first-year students who participate in FIGs tend to:

  • earn higher grade-point averages (GPAs) in their initial semester,
  • report higher levels of satisfaction with their educational experiences, and
  • return for their sophomore year at higher rates than do the students who forego these opportunities.

SUNY New Paltz offers two types of FIGs:

  • "Pre-Major" FIGs can help first-year students, who already know what field they will study, to develop a rapport with an instructor of that field as they complete the introductory course(s) of their major.
  • "Thematic" FIGs can help first-year students, who do not know what field they will study, to complete two categories of General Education as they take courses in different fields of study.

 If you have any specific questions about FIGs, please email:

Patrick Saxe, Assistant Dean,