Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Freshman Academic Institute?

The FAI is a three-week, residential introduction to liberal arts learning at Lawrence University. Each fall, just prior to Welcome Week, 30 new Lawrentians participate in a credit-earning curriculum including the FAI Seminar - based on the Freshman Studies model of close reading, discussion, and writing; and Topics in Psychology - a larger lecture and discussion class. Co-curricular programming emphasizes the development of academic skills through writing and discussion workshops, peer-tutoring, and interaction with campus resources and services. The extra-curricular social programming is led by student Program Assistants and includes recreational activities throughout the Fox Cities and Door County.


How much does participation in the FAI cost?

There are no direct costs to students for participating in the Freshman Academic Institute.  Tuition, room, and board are all funded through a grant awarded to Lawrence University.  Students may bring money for doing laundry or for going to local shops.


How are students selected to participate in the FAI?

After the May 1 National Decision Day, Lawrence invites all new domestic students to express their interest in participating in the FAI and to provide their reasons for wanting to participate - be they academic, social, or personal. Through careful consideration of a student's expressed interest in participating, prior academic opportunities and record, and personal experiences, the admissions committee selects 30 students whom the committee believes will most benefit from the FAI experience.  Due to the limited number of spaces available in each FAI Seminar, Lawrence is not able to invite all interested students to participate.  


What happens if an interested student is not invited to the FAI?

Don't worry, there are resources available to help all students succeed during the academic year at Lawrence.  These resources include  the CORE peer-mentoring program for all freshmen, the Advising Corps, peer-tutoring, writing and discussion workshops, academic success courses, academic counseling, learning specialist services, and the Con Brio Music Theory E-Course for music students.  Students should speak with their academic advisor early in the Fall Term to express their interest in any of these resources.

Does participation in the FAI affect a student's college admission status?

Not at all.  The FAI has no bearing on a student's enrollment.  Since participants have already been admitted to Lawrence through the university's competitive admissions process, we are confident that they possess the potential to thrive at Lawrence.  The FAI is just one of many supports in place to help students reach their full potential as Lawrence students.


What does a typical day look like at the FAI?

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, students participate in classes in the morning and afternoon; Tuesdays and Thursdays are devoted to co-curricular workshops addressing writing, discussion, and academic skills.  Opportunities exist in the afternoons and evenings for preparation of class assignments and spending time with new friends.  On weekends, upperclassmen serving as Program Assistants lead social activities such as picnics, movies, bowling, and hiking.  The FAI programming also includes a trip to Björklunden - Lawrence University's northern campus on the shores of Lake Michigan, as well as points of interest in the surrounding area.

Can students earn academic credit through the FAI?

Yes, after successful completion of the two FAI courses, participants earn three academic credits for the class UNIC 104: Introduction to Liberal Learning, which can be applied towards graduation.


Where will students live during the FAI?

Upon arrival on campus, all FAI students will move directly into their fall term housing assignments.  There will be no need for them to move again before the school year begins.

Do students have to stay on campus during the weekends?

During the FAI, all students must reside on the Lawrence University campus. If students have a prior commitment that falls during one of the FAI weekends, they should discuss this commitment with the Director of the Freshman Academic Institute.


Who can provide more information about the FAI?

Prospective students, applicants, and new matriculants should contact their Lawrence Admissions counselor for more information regarding the Freshman Academic Institute.  They may also contact Prof. Matthew Ansfield, Director of the Freshman Academic Institute. (

Can international students participate in the FAI?

Only domestic students can participate in the FAI.  However, Lawrence does offer a similar program for international students: the Summer Institute for International Students (SIIS).  Like the FAI, the SIIS is a three-week, credit-bearing introduction to learning at Lawrence that takes place directly prior to Welcome Week.  For more information about this summer program, please contact International Student Services (ISS).  During the academic year, International Student Services provides additional support and resources for Lawrence's international students.

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