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First-Year Preceptorial

Students in class

First-Year Preceptorial 
is the first step in a journey of intellectual discovery.

We often speak of education as a journey.  After all, you will be travelling to Knox for your education, physically reorienting yourself to begin the next stage in your intellectual development. But your education will look like a journey in many other ways too. You will be full of anticipation before you begin. Over the years, you will embark on activities you have planned but will benefit just as much, or even more, from unexpected twists and turns. Eventually, this journey will come to a conclusion, at least, a provisional conclusion, as you prepare for your next journey in life. And, in all likelihood, you will look back on your college years and decide that getting there was not "half the fun," as they say. The fun was in the intellectual encounters, engagements, dialogues, and experiences you had during the journey.

First-Year Preceptorial (or FP, as everyone calls it) is designed to invite these encounters, initiate these dialogues, and develop the habits of inquiry, communication, and judgment vital for success at Knox and beyond. And forget about majors or disciplines; we don't travel as history majors or chemistry majors. FP classes are taught by professors from all academic programs with a variety of areas of interest and expertise. FP takes on "big questions": what is love? how do we communicate? how do we see each other? how do we live sustainably on this planet? what does it mean to act and to lead?

FP explores these questions from multiple and diverse perspectives.  You will be asked to read and think critically, cultivate oral and written communication skills, be open to the unexpected and unpredictable, and practice academic integrity in your work.  FP will be your first step on this journey, but its focus will be on skills and talents you will need throughout your time here.

All first-year students will take FP. You choose your FP course preferences when you choose your fall course preferences. Sign up for FP and course preferences on your student portal.

Preceptorial Summer Readings
Before you arrive on campus, we would like you to read and give some thought to a few essays that consider the experiences of others who have been on journeys like yours. The first is included below. A second reading will be posted in August. During Orientation, you will have an opportunity to discuss both essays with a small group of other first-year students and a member of our faculty.

Your first reading was a speech presented on the Knox campus just a few weeks ago. It is the Commencement address presented to the 2014 graduating class.  The speaker is Natasha Tretheway, the 19th Poet Laureate of the U.S. (The Poet Laureate is essentially the nation's top poet, selected by the Librarian of Congress.)  As you will read -- and as you can also hear in the video -- Professor Tretheway's college experience was not the easiest of journeys.  She speaks of personal challenges but also to the common challenge we face in our intellectual journeys: making sense of our travels and our choices to ourselves. It is a quintessential Knox value that each student will chart her/his own path through Knox.  You will have to write the narrative of your own journey, but FP will help.  FP will be your introduction to a Knox education, but the success of that education will come as you use the tools of FP to describe that journey.

Read and watch Natasha Tretheway's speech.

We urge you to both read and watch Professor Tretheway's address.  It will connect you with the just graduated class of 2014, and it will start you on your journey here.

Academic Honesty and the Intellectual Community
During Preceptorial, you'll learn what it means to be part of an intellectual community that practices academic integrity. Veritas (or truth) -- the College's motto -- is the foundation for life and learning at Knox as embodied by our Honor Code. Academic integrity is the broader sense of intellectual truthfulness -- carefully considering all sides of an issue, giving credit where credit is due, and being an active participant in scholarly discussion.

Preceptorial teaches you how to objectively analyze and discuss competing explanations and contradictory beliefs, how to question or affirm a viewpoint, when to be persuaded by a new idea, and how to interact in good faith with those whose opinions differ from your own.