Your First Year

First-Year Reading Program

Coming together to explore and discuss ideas through critical reading - active engagement and interaction with texts - is an important experience for all students at Washington College. 

In the First-Year Reading Program, you begin this aspect of your college experience during the week of Orientation. Your First-Year Advisor and new peers are your partners as you explore the issues raised by the selected reading or readings. The First-Year Reading Program also represents our expectations for your intellectual life at the college: that you will come to class prepared to discuss assigned readings and other assignments, grapple with big, hard questions and learn from listening to each other as well as your professor. 

First-Year Reading Selections

This year, there are two readings which explore the concept of a liberal education. Through a close examination of these readings, you will consider questions, such as - What are the values and goals of a liberal education? Why does a liberal education matter in today’s world? How can I become a liberally educated person? 

“Only Connect…The Goal of a Liberal Education”   

William Cronon, The American Scholar (1998)
PDFText VersionWeb Link

“Against Conformity” - A college president reflects on liberal education in China and the U.S. (opinion)”

Michael S. Roth, Inside Higher ED (2018)
PDFText VersionWeb Link

Critical Reading Resources

We recommend that you review these critical reading resources before you dive into the selected readings. 

Reading Critically

(The Writing Centre, University of Toronto Scarborough)
PDF  |  Text VersionWeb Link

Critical Reading Strategies

(University of Minnesota’s Student Writing Guide, 2004)
PDFText VersionWeb Link