Designed specifically for new college students, SEARCH Seminar promotes academic success, personal growth, and community engagement by emphasizing the expectations and values of Alvernia’s academic community. This three-credit course required for graduation focuses on four key areas: 1) cultivating success skills, 2) advising and vocation, 3) appreciation of the liberal arts tradition and ethical leadership, and 4) being a part of Alvernia University's mission-driven community. With these four areas serving as points of reference, students are supported through their first semester to help them become aware, active, and intentional learners. Students are also given opportunities to explore and experience college life through a wide variety of co-curricular activities.

Enduring Questions

Enduring Questions contribute to the foundation for the Alvernia General Education SEARCH program at Alvernia. These perennial questions challenge us to consider our deepest human commitments and experiences, as well as invite us to explore the human condition.  SEARCH Seminar (SRH 101), Foundations of Theology (THE 105), Introduction to Philosophy (PHI 105), and Composition and Research (COM 101) immerse students in a learning community that engages in rigorous examination of these enduring questions that guide the human journey:

  • Who am I and where do I come from?
  • What am I called to do?
  • How do I contribute to justice and good in our world?
  • How do I demonstrate moral courage?
  • What responsibilities do we have to others?

Area I:  Success Skills

During this segment of the course, which coincides both with the period when students will most likely be taking their first tests or receiving their first major grades and the academic alert process, students will be introduced to methods of study necessary for success in college. Issues of mental health and counseling, alcohol and drug awareness, and academic support should also be introduced in this segment.

Area II:  Advising and Vocation

After having worked to understand the concepts behind and the value of the general education curriculum in earlier weeks, students carry that focus forward as they move toward the course selection and registration process. In addition to course selection, advising offers an opportunity to reflect more deeply on choices that are made during one’s academic progression and to cultivate intentional ‘vocational’ awareness. Students will need to prepare for advising by obtaining practical knowledge around such matters the advising worksheet for their major(s), class schedules through Self-Service, how to address registration holds, and how to register themselves. As important will be for them to understand their roles and responsibilities in the advisement process.

Area III:  Liberal and Ethical Learning

The course begins by introducing students to the values upon which intellectual inquiry and scholarly practice are based and to the expectations that members of the community have of each other. Students are introduced to the idea of a liberal education, the relevance of liberal learning to all careers, and the SEARCH General Education Program as an expression of Alvernia’s commitment to providing them with a foundation in the liberal arts. Students are also introduced to basic elements of learning in the Franciscan tradition with an emphasis on shared values, building community, cultivating leadership skills, and academic integrity.

Area IV:  Franciscan Leadership and Community

To be a student at Alvernia University is formative in many dimensions of a person’s life. A key element that sets Alvernia University apart from other institutions of higher education is its embrace of the rich, ancient tradition known as the “Franciscan Tradition.” During their first year, students will encounter this tradition in a way that propels them towards increasing forms of leadership and a capacity to enrich the communities in which they belong.

First-Year Experience