First-Year Success Courses
VCU strongly encourages all incoming first-year students to enroll in at least one First-Year Student Success course. These courses count toward graduation requirements and meet only once a week for 50 minutes.
National research shows that these first-year courses greatly impact the overall grade performance of students and also improve how connected a student feels to their university (thus improving their persistence in college and their GPA).
These courses are taught by our academic advisors, financial aid counselors, campus leaders and student affairs professionals interested in connecting to first-year students based on their interests, fears, aspirations and career goals.
All of our student success courses are listed in the Banner 9 registration system as UNIV 191, unless otherwise noted.
First-Year Student Success courses include:
- Building a Fantastic (Mass Comm) Foundation
- Business Foundation (BFO) Student Success
- Maximizing VCUarts Foundation
- Professional Planning for Pre-Clinical Radiation Majors
- Professional Planning for Pre-Dental Hygiene Majors
- Professional Planning for Pre-Nursing Majors
- Principles of Success for Pre-Professional Health Students
Career and Professional Success
- Education and Career Planning (UNIV103) *For undeclared students
- Introduction to Career Planning and Management
College Skills and Personal Success
- Study Skills and Procrastination
- Purpose and Belonging
- The Science of Recovery
- Well-Being in College
- Writing with Confidence
Connecting to VCU and RVA
- From the Locker Room to Classroom
- Get Connected - Service Learning
- Getting Involved on Campus
- Introduction to the University (UNIV 101)
- Maximizing Your Global Learning
- Navigating the Transition to VCU
- Profiles in Leadership: Deepening your influence at VCU (LRDS 200)
- Urban Education and Experience
Identity, Community and Belonging
- ¡Adelante!: The Path to Success at VCU
- Dynamic Principles for Professional Development: For Men of Color
- Leadership Development for Women of Color
- Navigating LGBTQ Pride at VCU and RVA
- YouFirst @ VCU *For first-generation students
¡Adelante! (UNIV 191)
The Path to Success at VCU! The purpose of the course is to empower, connect, and support new students who identify as Latinx/Hispanic (or their allies). Through in-depth discussions, guest speakers, and group projects, students will learn how to build their skills, set achievable goals, and create a culture of collaboration, in order to become the leaders they were destined to be. Students will also be assigned a Guia/Guide or mentor. These mentors will assist students with the transition to collegiate life, create programs to encourage active involvement in the academic and social life of the campus, and assist in promoting campus pride and cohesiveness among students. The course will focus on study skills and exam skills, writing skills, career exploration and planning, getting connected on campus, and building faculty/student engagement.
Adventures! (UNIV 191)
Calling all Adventurers! If you have a passion for exploration, and carpe diem is your motto, this is the class for you. Together we will learn how the characteristics of an adventurer: resourceful, unlimited dreamer, community-focused, and adventurous, can be helpful while navigating the college journey. This will be a highly interactive class where we will be working together and engaging in activities every class period. If you want to work closely with a community of fellow adventurers to learn how to apply your skills to college life, join us for Adventures!
Building a Fantastic (Mass Comm) Foundation (UNIV 191)
Are you a Mass Communications major? Wondering about the difference between creative and strategic advertising? Want to know more about media production? Curious how your interest in media can impact your classes and your first year? This course will introduce you to the Mass Communications major and assist you in connecting your interests with your major requirements and opportunities at VCU. Get a jump start on understanding your foundation (advertising, journalism, media production, or public relations), using media as a lens to view your first year, and tailoring your mass communications experience.
Business Foundation (BFO) Student Success (UNIV 191)
Orients new business foundation students to ensure a successful first semester and transition to the university setting. The course will focus on academic resources, exploring various business majors and career options, developing peer mentoring and alumni connections, and creating individualized professional development plans that will carry students through their four years at VCU and lead to successful career outcomes.
Dynamic Principles for Professional Development: For Men of Color (UNIV 191)
This class is designed to build community among men of color. Students explore internships and leadership opportunities on campus and focus on professional development. Each student is connected to a campus navigator to aid you in your adjustment to campus and a professional navigator, a person in your desired field of study. The class explores issues that men face in college and beyond through discussions and guest speakers.
Education and Career Planning (UNIV 103)
An exploratory course for individuals focusing on educational goals and the process of career planning. Through the use of in-class activities, assessments, and projects, students will be guided through the process of choosing a major and learn how to make informed decisions. The course will also utilize guest speakers and interviews with working professionals and other students. Through exploration of various educational and career options, students will identify degree paths suitable to their strengths, values and interests and emerge from the course with a plan for their continuing education.
From the Locker Room to the Classroom (UNIV 191)
Were you a high school athlete? Do you have a passion for sports and physical fitness? Many of the skills you use in these areas can also encourage academic success. This course provides tangible opportunities for students to forge connections between athletic experiences and academic success and consider how they can continue to pursue their passion for sport and fitness both outside and inside the classroom.
Get Connected - Service Learning (UNIV 191)
This course helps students discover opportunities for civic engagement in VCU and the Greater Richmond community. This community-based class is for first-year students across the volunteer spectrum. If you’re a hands-on learner or ready to develop your résumé, if you’re interested in human rights, social justice, or just getting out of your comfort zone, if you’re wondering how to immerse yourself at an urban institution like VCU, this course is for you.
Getting Involved on Campus (UNIV 191)
This course is for students seeking opportunities to find new friends who share like ideas or for students who know that they need to get out more socially and just are not sure where to start or what great opportunities exist on campus. During this course, students explore VCU student clubs and organizations, leadership opportunities, VCU and RVA community events, and begin to open doors to where they can find their niche at VCU.
Introduction to Career Planning & Management (UNIV 191)
Find out how to connect your major to careers while learning more about yourself through guided self-exploration. Explore ways to gain experience while you are at VCU that will be useful to your future plans. Discover how you can start planning your career now and manage it long-term. We lay the foundation for a productive four-year graduation rate that leads to gainful and self-fulfilling employment!
Introduction to the University (UNIV 101)
Designed to orient new students to the traditions, purposes and expectations of a university education. Students will assess their expectations and evaluate their academic strengths and goals. Students will learn of VCU resources designed to help them solve problems and to achieve a rewarding and successful academic program.
Leadership Development for Women of Color (UNIV 191)
The purpose of the course is to empower undergraduate minority women to break through the barriers that impede their professional growth. Through in-depth discussions, guest speakers, and group projects, students will engage in topics related to: building their leadership brand, the value of sisterhood, servant leadership (community service project), finding their voice, managing conflict as a leader, and much more! The course is designed to help first-year students transition to collegiate life, engage in programs to encourage active involvement in the academic and social life of the campus, increase their sense of belonging, and assist in promoting campus pride and cohesiveness among students.
Maximizing VCUarts Foundation (UNIV 191)
This module provides students new to the VCUarts' Foundation program a more thorough guidance on the resources, opportunities and potential of VCUarts. Experience facility tours, visiting lecturers and unique introductions to major options while exploring arts career potential. Students also have an opportunity to actively navigate AFO-specific challenges with supportive peer and instructor feedback.
Maximizing Your Global Learning (UNIV 191)
This course focuses on global learning and is open to students of all majors. This course introduces key skills in developing cultural agility including empathy and perspective-taking. Students will learn about the variety of global learning experiences available and how to prepare for a study away experience. Students will be better equipped to navigate cultures both in the US and abroad.
Navigating LGBTQ Pride at VCU and RVA (UNIV 191)
This course is for students who want to connect and identify with their surrounding LGBT and ally community. Topics covered include an exploration and reflection of self and society through current events, local resources, and academic readings/films. This class welcomes members of the community and allies to engage in a timely, essential, and semester-long conversation.
Navigating the Transition to VCU - Access, Accommodations, and Self-Advocacy (UNIV 191)
The purpose of this class is to help students with disabilities make a successful transition to VCU. This course will provide opportunities for students to develop and hone their unique skills as new members of the VCU community through working with their peers and receiving guided direction and feedback. We will focus on the development and growth of various skills related to academics, work and personal needs and skills, social engagement, proper accommodation usage, and self-advocacy. The course will help students learn about resources and techniques that aid in reducing the barriers that are often common in traditional learning programs.
Profiles in Leadership: Deepening your Influence at VCU (LRDS 200)
Leadership changes the world! This class will introduce students to leadership from a variety of viewpoints/perspectives and discuss how to deepen their influence in the VCU community and beyond. Students will discuss the ways in which their own leadership development can contribute to their success both in and outside of the classroom.
Professional Planning for Pre-Clinical Radiation Majors (UNIV 191)
This course is designed for pre-radiation sciences students and course topics will include how to be a competitive candidate for the clinical radiation sciences application process, investigating multiple pathways to the profession, and exploring additional healthcare and helping related fields. Students will learn how to navigate the high school to college transition through utilizing university resources and setting academic and professional goals.
Professional Planning for Pre-Dental Hygiene Majors (UNIV 191)
This course is designed for pre-dental hygiene students and course topics will include how to be a competitive candidate for the dental hygiene application process, investigating multiple pathways to the profession, and exploring additional healthcare and helping related fields. Students will learn how to navigate the high school to college transition through utilizing university resources and setting academic and professional goals.
Professional Planning for Pre-Nursing Majors (UNIV 191)
This course is designed for pre-nursing students and course topics will include how to be a competitive candidate for the nursing application process, investigating multiple pathways to the Nursing profession, and exploring additional healthcare and helping related fields. Students will learn how to navigate the high school to college transition through utilizing university resources and setting academic and professional goals.
Principles of Success for Pre-Professional Health Students (UNIV 191)
This course is geared for students who are working towards a career in medicine, dentistry, physician assistant, physical therapist, occupational therapy, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, or optometry. The overarching objective of this course is to foster student success through the practice of positive psychology, evidence-based management of stress/ anxiety, and utilizing practical tools to optimize intellectual and educational opportunities. Emphasis will be placed on ethical behavior, conscious communication, and the importance of community involvement.
Purpose and Belonging (UNIV 191)
Students will discover or confirm their motivation in this class. The focus will be to help students live with purpose and enhance their feeling of belonging at VCU. The class will be highly collaborative and energetic. Students will discover and share what really matters to them. They will uncover a new vision for their future through a variety of activities. This curriculum was developed with the backing of the most up-to-date social science. We are excited to share this holistic view of student support with the VCU community.
Study Skills and Procrastination (UNIV 191)
Come join us to learn how to make your study time count, get assignments done faster and learn all the ways VCU can help you with your academics. Topics include learning about tutoring, Supplemental Instruction, writing consultations, and fantastic (easy to do) study strategies. Say goodbye to wasted time and procrastination. This is a great way to decrease your academic stress and increase your productivity.
Success Skills for TRIO Students (UNIV 191)
This course introduces TRIO students to the University and provides information that will promote and support academic success. The course includes a review of basic skills and competencies necessary for college success, including (but not limited to) time management, study skills, and orientation to university policies and procedures. It is also designed to introduce you to the TRIO Student Support Services program in order to maximize the services offered as they work toward the completion of your baccalaureate degree.
The Science of Recovery (UNIV 191)
VCU loves students in recovery from addiction. Learn about the science of recovery, build recovery skills, learn about resources in our community and beyond, and find meaningful ways to be of service. Through lectures, guest speakers and individual projects, students will learn of VCU resources designed to help them in their recovery and build a rewarding and successful life and career.
Well-Being in College (UNIV 191)
This course is designed to provide first-year students with the knowledge and skills needed to promote positive well-being and navigate some of the challenges students face outside the classroom. Students will be able to identify and connect with specific resources at VCU designed to support well-being, understand how well-being is linked to academic success, and practice skills to help them live their best lives in college and beyond.
Writing with Confidence (UNIV 191)
Transitioning from high school to college writing is a challenging yet exciting journey. This course will facilitate your growth as a confident,
skilled academic writer. Taught by a VCU Writing Center administrator, we will use time-tested, student-focused writing resources and short, contemporary readings for discussion and reflection. By exploring your writing process throughout the semester, upon successful completion of this course, you will be more comfortable with a wide array of writing assignments, styles, and techniques.
Urban Education and Experience (UNIV 191)
In this course, students will have the opportunity to explore the challenges of access and equality in urban educational settings. Engage in discussions around how personal identity impacts educational experience. Students will actively participate and learn about grassroots projects that help the Richmond community.
You First @ VCU (UNIV 191)
Are you a first-generation college student? Not sure? If neither of your parents or legal guardians earned a bachelor's degree, then you are a first-generation student. Did you know that almost one-third of VCU’s first-year class are first-gen students? This course is designed to help you get connected to other first-generation students as well as the academic and social resources that will help you achieve your goals. We hope you’ll join us this fall!
How to register:
- To register for our success courses through the Banner 9 registration system, follow this step-by-step video tutorial.
- In Banner 9, search for University College (UNIV) 101, 103 or 191.
- There are several schedule options to meet your needs. Be sure to click each page number at the bottom of the screen for a full list of courses and times.
- Add your success course to your schedule, and you're all done!
Here's what a few of the students who have taken First-Year Student Success courses had to say about their experience:
- "Great class that really made me discover myself and what I believe in. Thanks for a great half-semester!"
- "I really enjoyed taking this class and experiencing a space for LGBTQ+ friendly talk and discussion."
- "Very knowledgeable, and helps nurture an inclusive learning environment where discussion is heavily promoted."
- "[My professor] was a fantastic professor for this course and helped me acquire useful knowledge in regard to resources and opportunities available from VCUarts. He also did a great job giving us more information about the various majors offered next year."
- "This class helped me with the struggles often associated with being a freshman, and I was able to take away key techniques to cope with stress and concentration."