The Pathways to Academic Success Seminar (PASS) is one of Washington State University’s Student Success & Transition Programs, a two-credit elective course offered through the Office of Undergraduate Education that students can take their freshman year. PASS introduces new students to a collaborative and intellectually challenging environment in preparation for college curricula. PASS is designed, through small group activities, to give students an introduction to college expectations and an opportunity to further develop or refine key skills needed to be successful at the college level.

PASS emphasizes research, writing, and presentation skills. Each class session is geared toward steps involved in the scholarly research process. Students will engage in small group discussions stemming from current events and choose an interest area to research and during this process learn how to use WSU’s library system, create an argumentative thesis, and defend that argument with their research findings. The final project will be presented in the form of a conference-style poster at the end-of-semester Freshman Poster Exhibition.

PASS focuses on teaching vital college success skills to first-year students in a supportive learning environment. Critical to students’ success at a research university is an understanding of the process of research writing. Students are systematically oriented to the process of conducting research through the campus library system and in writing a scholarly research paper in preparation for other courses requiring higher ordered thinking and research writing skills.

Although the focus of PASS is developing a strong foundation for critical thinking and analytical reasoning, we also incorporate activities and instruction to develop skills essential for success at college: Time Management, Understanding Learning Styles, Effective Note-Taking Strategies and Study Tips, Preparing for Exams, and Academic Integrity.

There is no “typical” PASS student. They can be high school valedictorians or students who are struggling with their academic transition to WSU. Most students say they signed up for the seminar because they like the idea of taking a small class where they would gain general knowledge about being a college student. Students who take PASS have found it challenging, fun, and most of all different from their other courses.

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