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Beyond Orientation: FYE Books For Your Students

Posted by Sophie Butler on Feb 28, 2024

Beyond Orientation: FYE Books For Your Students

Explore Common Read Books Across Campuses

Starting college is an exciting yet challenging journey for freshmen. The transition from high school to college comes with new responsibilities, environments, and experiences. And while some students excel in this transition it can be difficult for others. Colleges have introduced First Year Experience (FYE) or Common Read Programs to help students during this important transition.

FYE programs help college freshmen with support, resources, and community, making it easier to transition into higher education. This is why picking the right book for FYE programs takes a lot of thought and planning.

When planning your Common Read program it’s essential to select books that are relevant to the challenges faced by college freshmen to help with their adjustment to college. It is also essential to choose books that align with your school’s values to directly influence the campus community.

If you need some inspiration to create a lasting impact with your program, check out what other colleges and universities are doing in their FYE/ Common Read programs:

1. Duke University

Duke University's Common Experience Program is an annual tradition that dates back to the 2001-2002 academic year. Uniquely, Duke has decided to open up their reading selection to involve the entire undergraduate community. They’ve seen this foster social cohesion and a sense of shared learning among students, faculty, and staff.

For the 2023-2024 academic year Duke’s selection committee chose “The Measure” for their common read book. They decided this book is perfect for their students to read because of the common theme of uncertainty and navigating that uncertainty. Something that all their students can relate to while in college and can carry after.

The Measure by Nikki Erlick

2. University of Oregon

The University of Oregon's Common Read Committee decided to switch up their program for the 2023-2024 common read by partnering with the UO’s Center for the Study of Women in Society (CSWS). Instead of choosing one book for students to read, they curated multiple titles surrounding the theme of "Feminist Futures: Research on Women and Gender in Society."

By choosing a theme for students to focus on and engage with they were able to explore the issues of gender equality and social justice through various lenses. They also partnered their books with invited speakers, exhibits, films, authors, and performances that also reflected the theme. This was able to foster a critical dialogue and understanding for students and the wider community on a topic that UO values greatly.

The Turnaway Study by Diana Greene Foster

Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence by Anita Hill

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown

The Palace Papers by Tina Brown

3. Northwestern University

With a catchy tagline, Northwestern University's One Book One Northwestern program has selected "Crying in H Mart" by Michelle Zauner as its 2023-24 common read book. They chose this poignant memoir of Zauner's journey of grief and self-discovery following the loss of her mother, exploring themes of love, family, and cultural identity.

To get students more engaged in the reading they also partnered their fye book with a photo contest with rewards and invited the author to come speak to the student body. They want the program to offer an opportunity for students and the wider community to engage with the author and delve deeper into the themes of resilience, grace, and enduring love amidst life's challenges and changes that reflect Northwestern's diverse communities.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

4. Cal Poly Pomona

Every year Cal Poly Pomona’s First Year Experience Committee accepts book submissions from anyone for consideration. This year they selected "The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together" by Heather McGhee. This is a popular book that we saw many colleges and universities selecting for their freshman year students. Heather McGhee's exploration of racism's pervasive impact on the American economy resonates deeply with Cal Poly Pomona’s commitment to fostering inclusivity and social awareness among incoming students.

Through various programmatic activities, including discussions, workshops, and community engagement initiatives, Cal Poly Pomona seeks to empower students to confront racism and work towards a future where solidarity and prosperity are shared by all members of society. The author of the book will even be coming to campus to speak and they created a podcast tie-in for their students to engage with.

The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee

5. Cal State San Marcos

Cal State San Marcos' Common Reading program for the 2023-24 academic year has embraced the theme of banned books, recognizing the pressing issue of increasing censorship and restriction in libraries nationwide. They wanted to also shine a spotlight on the fact that a lot of banned books are about marginalized groups such as LGBTQIA persons and people of color.

Instead of choosing one book they had the great idea to hold a book fair where students could select one book of their choice to take and read for free. CSSM created different events throughout the first few months of the year such as celebrating Banned Books Week with activities, holding bilingual storytimes and crafting, and facilitating pride center book discussions.

We Are the Land by Damon B. Akins and William J. Bauer

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Separate Is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh

We hope you were able to get some inspiration for your FYE programs from these colleges who have found success in theirs. If you want to explore more titles for your students you can check out our FYE Catalog or request a quote if you already have your title in mind. Together let’s empower your students to embark on a transformative and memorable college experience.