September 15, 2019 | 68° F

FIG seminars provide students with opportunity for leadership, academic exploration

Photo by Mica Finehart |

 The first-year interest group seminar, or FIG, program first began in 2000. The seminars, which are worth one credit and are graded on a pass/fail basis, are only offered during the fall semester. 

The Rutgers First-Year Interest Group Seminars (FIGS) program helps aid first-year students in their transition to college while exploring an academic area of their interest. 

Lyn Baier is the assistant director of the FIGS program. The FIGS are one-credit courses provided by University Career Services and taught by upperclassmen to aid first-year students in their transition to college while exploring an academic interest area. 

Rutgers University began the program in 2000 at Rutgers College with five sections. In Fall 2007, FIGS were offered to all first-year School of Arts and Sciences students, and in Fall 2008, FIGS became available to students enrolled in Rutgers Business School and School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. The FIGS program moved to University Career Services, within the Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs in January 2017, and has continued to grow since.

Baier said that in FIGS, peer instructors gain valuable leadership experience, and students are able to build community with other students who share similar interests and identify opportunities and resources at Rutgers.

“We expect over 2,000 first-year students to enroll in FIGS classes in Fall 2019. To date, 21,000 first-year students have taken a FIGS class and more than 1,000 upper-class students have taught this course. We plan to offer ninety sections in 46 topics in Fall 2019,” Baier said.  

Baier has been directing the FIGS Program since Fall of 2008. This fall will be her 12th fall overseeing the FIGS courses, she said.  

The students who teach the FIGS seminars are called peer instructors. They are full-time undergraduate students in their junior or senior year who develop a 10-week course that exposes first-year students to careers, research and educational opportunities, as well as the many other resources available at Rutgers through the lens of an academic interest area.

“The majority of our peer instructors do not have previous teaching experience and are not interested in a career in teaching, but instead develop skills that are applicable to their post-graduation goals” Baier said.

Mihai Andrei, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, is one of the peer instructors who explores the academic discipline of computer science in the FIGS program.

“Overall, I had a good experience with the FIGS program. I decided to apply because I love teaching,” Andrei said. “My favorite part was actually teaching the class and interacting with my class for 10 weeks.” 

Cindy Xie

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