Be part of First-Year Studies, a signature experience and long-time Lawrence intellectual tradition.

During your first two terms on campus, you’ll study works across disciplines and mediums in a unifying experience with every first-year student at Lawrence. Through close reading, immersive discussions and community-wide lectures, First-Year Studies will lay the groundwork for your academic experience to come. Challenging, comprehensive, and deep–be prepared to generate your own light by carefully absorbing some of the brightest texts and ideas in human history.

Photo of books and other First-Year Studies materials lined up on a shelf.

Text and Beyond

First-Year Studies at Lawrence is more than reading books. From the periodic table to graphic novels to albums, you’ll learn to think deeply and ask questions about books, photos, paintings, films, and more.

Professor lecturing to group of students sitting on the lawn

Small Groups, Big Impact

You’ll share your First-Year Studies experience with a small group of just 15. Each section is led by professors from different disciplines—so you might end up examining Plato with a physics professor or the periodic table with a music professor.

Alexandra Bell stands at the podium on the stage of Memorial Chapel as she delivers her convocation address.

Putting It All Together

Your individual section will have opportunities to gather with the entire first-year class to share ideas not only with each other, but the Appleton community. Through corresponding lectures held in Memorial Chapel, listen to experts, or even the works’ creators, offer deeper insights and context about the work and the questions it raises.

8 to 1

Student to Faculty Ratio

Small class sizes mean big opportunities to pursue your passions.


classes taught by faculty

You'll learn, research, and make music with experts.


Liberal Arts College in Wisconsin

Lawrence is consistently recognized as one of the best schools in the state and country.

Written notes along margins of typed text in a creative writing class

The Writing Prize

Each year, one student is chosen to receive the First-Year Studies Writing Prize. You can submit your paper for consideration at the end of each term.


Graphic novels. Elizabethan plays. Japanese films. 

Features & Highlights


Unbagging First-Year Studies

Martyn Smith, director of First-Year Studies, unbags the 10 works being used in First-Year Studies during the 2021-2022 academic year.