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First Year Reading Experience

First-Year Reading Experience celebrates 25th anniversary


For the past 25 years, the University of South Carolina has sponsored the First-Year Reading Experience (FYRE) for all freshmen. As students attended orientation this summer, each was presented with this year’s book selection A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger. Berger will be on campus Thursday, Sept. 20 to lead a book discussion at the Koger Center beginning at 6:30 p.m. A More Beautiful Question was selected as part of USCreativity, where the university is celebrating innovation, exploration and BIG ideas.

One of the goals of the First-Year Reading Experiences is to give our entering students a welcome and sense of belonging to our community.

Dr. Sandra Kelly, Vice Provost and
     Dean of Undergraduate Studies

Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies Sandra J. Kelly, Ph.D., says, “One of the goals of the First-Year Reading Experiences is to give our entering students a welcome and sense of belonging to our community. This year because A More Beautiful Question is also part of the university-wide celebration, USCreativity, there is even a great emphasis on the community-building aspect of this tradition.”

Instructor Julie Hutt has been teaching University 101 for the past 10 years. She says, “First year students are the perfect group for this book as they explore, discover, and inquire about their transitions to college.” The FYRE book is often incorporated into University 101 classes, which help first-year students transition into college and provides an introduction to the resources available at the university to ensure students are successful.

University 101 Programs Assistant Director of Campus Partnerships Catherine Greene says, “The First-Year Reading Experience has been one of the university’s great tradition since 1993.  While the format of the event has evolved over the years, it continues to be a wonderful opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions with first-year students around relevant themes from a book selected with their experience in mind.  We often receive inquiries from other institutions on how to select books and design meaningful curriculum and programming to help bring the themes to life.” 

As part of the First-Year Reading Experience book promotion, students in the School of Visual Art and Design compete to be selected as the designer of the cover art that will be given to all freshmen. This year’s winner is Lindsey Lane.

Over the course of the Fall 2018 semester, there will be a FYRE Question Contest where a student or a team of students will use the framework set forth in the book (Why, What If, and How) to generate a question and create a written proposal about USC or the college experience. The finalists will be asked to do an oral pitch to a group of judges to come up with a winning student or team. The contest will generate some great creative problem solving and the questions will be directly relevant to either USC or the college experience. The first submission is due Nov. 2 and the finalists selected to do an oral pitch will be notified by Nov. 9. The winner/winning team will receive an invitation to attend the President Harris Pastides tailgate at the Nov. 17 Chattanooga Football Game.

First-Year Reading Experience

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.