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Potsdam Prepared: Fall 2021 Updates

First-Year Connect Program - Frequently Asked Questions

What are the goals of First-Year Connect (1YC)? Why are we doing this?

  • 1YC will give you the opportunity to start connecting and building friendships with other first-year students at SUNY Potsdam during your first year. 
  • We want you to have a thoughtful, positive start to the college experience, one that fosters a community built on the Potsdam Pledge.
  • 1YC will begin to equip you with essential 21st century skills and attitudes, including communication and collaboration skills, empathy, critical thinking, critical awareness, community building, activation and civic engagement.

When does 1YC happen?

The program will take place between July 26 and August 21 before you come to campus.

Where and when will we meet?

You will meet on Zoom for 2 hours once a week for 4 weeks. The timing of your session will be based on your individual availability that you indicate during registration.

How do I sign up and how do I join the sessions?

  • You will receive an email with instructions on how to register.
  • When you register, you will create an account that will allow you to join your group in the virtual meeting room. The entire program is web-based and doesn’t require any additional software

Who will be teaching?

There will be no teaching in the traditional sense. First-Year Connect is implemented through a partnership with Soliya, an international organization that specializes in dialogue. First-Year Connect is led by trained facilitators that ensure your voices are being heard and your interests are driving the conversation. Some of the facilitators will be members of the SUNY Potsdam community.

What are facilitators?

  • Facilitators are trained to act as third parties who help a group have a constructive, respectful, and authentic dialogue on various topics of interest.
  • Facilitators are multi-partial and neutral process leaders. They do not participate in the content of the conversation, but do their best to ensure all participants feel free to express themselves and are heard by others, respecting certain agreed-upon ground rules and following the indications of program curriculum as well as the group’s needs and interests.
  • Facilitators seek to elicit self-awareness, group awareness and understanding by providing a safe and effective learning environment where participants learn tools to hold an effective dialogue and are inspired to take the skills and understanding beyond their participation in First-Year Connect. Facilitators are trained in utilizing a diverse set of facilitation tools to foster such awareness and learning and address group dynamics. First-Year Connect facilitators are curious learners, good listeners, multi-taskers, and team workers.

What is dialogue?

Dialogue is a conversation between two or more people where each person listens to the different side(s) in order to find understanding. Dialogue causes introspection on one’s own positions, and where they come from. Dialogue creates an open-minded attitude, but in order to have a successful dialogue participants need to speak freely and honestly and ask questions.

What will we talk about?

Sessions are semi-structured, following a tried and tested approach, which gives the space to you, as a student-participant, to decide the specific discussion topics you would like to explore each week. Some of the topics you may explore through 1YC are identity, methods of communicating, stereotypes, social inequality, race and racism, partisan politics, gender, and immigration. 

Is this going to give me any university credits?

1YC is incorporated into the general education requirements of WAYS 103. Each Ways 103 instructor will let you know how the First-Year Connect is integrated into their course. We recommend you take notes after each session.

Will there be assignments between each session?


Will there be exams?

There will not be any exams.

How long is each session?

Two hours.

How frequently does each group meet?

Once per week for four weeks, based on your availability. 

Do I need to be present for the entire session?

Yes, in order to apply this program to your WAYS 103 class (either during fall 2021 or spring 2022) and to get the most out of the program, you will need to be present for each session for the entire two hours.  

If I have a conflict, can I attend a different session?

We understand that problems do arise, especially during the time of COVID-19. We encourage you to please make every effort to attend every session. While it is not easy to move students between groups we will work with you to find the best possible solution. 

How many students will be in each session?

8 to 12 students. 

I have another question not listed here…

Please email us here with any other questions you may have!