The freshman experience at GSU is like no other. This is where your first year of college is designed to give you exactly what you need to succeed and to shape your life and your career.

Freshman-experience That one-of-a-kind first-year experience starts your first day on campus. We have some big ideas waiting for you. In your classes, you’ll notice two things: great, full-time professors teaching and no more than 30 students. No teaching assistants. No packed auditorium-as-classroom. You won’t find that kind of freshman learning environment in any other Illinois public university.  

Join an innovative academic program.

The Freshman Year at GSU is built around an academic program that stresses learning communities, connections, and support. In your first two years, you’ll fulfill general education requirements in full-time, day-time classes as a part of one of three groups of students, all taking courses with the same theme and focus through your sophomore year.

Cohort Descriptions:

Civic Engagement: The founders of our nation had some big ideas. Students in this theme group will dig deep into those ideas and learn more about what democracy means.

Honors Civic Engagement: students in this cohort must be members of the GSU Honors Program. They will delve more deeply into the themes of human dignity, tolerance, justice, ethical integrity and freedom.

Global Citizenship: Ours is a diverse, interconnected world. Students in this theme group will look into the forces that drive both collaboration and conflict among nations.

Sustainability: You have a role in protecting the health and vitality of the planet. Students in this theme group will concentrate on important issues that will prepare you for that role.   

Freshman-experience 2


  • Classes are small. Professors know your name. Freshman composition is limited to 18 students
  • When freshmen arrive on campus, they will receive their very own GSUConnect Tablet computer at no cost.
  • All first-year classes are taught by experienced faculty members
  • You’ll explore majors, programs and various careers to obtain a world view as you choose your major