SMC First Class

Helping high school students get valuable college credit early - and FREE

Saint Michael’s College First Class is a way for you to experience the College, its faculty, and students before you even graduate from high school.

Better yet, it is a way for you to get a valuable four-credit course for free!*

With SMC First Class, you can start your college career with college credits already under your belt. Not only can that help reduce tuition cost, it can help ensure you graduate on time – even if you decide to be a double major, study abroad or take on a minor or two.

You’ll also have more flexibility when planning future semesters. The credits you get from SMC First Class enable you to take an extra elective – maybe you’ve always been curious about filmmaking or astrophysics.

Register for Course

"I enjoyed the course and think it is a wonderful way to jump-start college learning."

- SMC First Class Student

Who can attend?

First Class is offered only to high school students who apply Early Action, and who are available for the 10-week course that runs late February through April of their senior year. Students choose one of five courses offered, presented as hybrid classes that combine an initial on-campus experience with online class time and classwork. The on campus component will take place on a Sunday morning in conjunction with an Admitted Student Open House the same weekend, while the rest of the academic work is completed online.

Courses are taught by some of the College’s most engaging professors; find their profiles and course descriptions below.

You can do it!

We realize that senior year can be a busy time–that’s why we have set up SMC First Class as a low-risk opportunity for admitted students. The hybrid format means you can work at your own pace while receiving support from your professor throughout the course to help ensure your success and a great first college experience at St. Mike’s.

However, if you realize that the work-load combined with your high school commitments is too difficult, you can drop the course at any time with no impact on your academic record. It is truly a low-risk, high-reward opportunity.

Getting started

To be eligible for an invitation to SMC First Class, complete your application for the Early Action I deadline by November 1, 2019 or the Early Action II deadline by December 1, 2019. Once admitted, you’ll automatically receive an invitation to register for one of the First Class courses. The registration deadline is February 1, 2020.

We encourage all students who take advantage of the benefits of Early Action to also complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The 2020-21 FAFSA is easier than ever and available now. Plus, once you’ve submitted your completed FAFSA to Saint Michael’s College, you’ll receive an annual FAFSA Completion Grant of $1,500 when you enroll.

If you have questions regarding SMC First Class, please explore our Frequently Asked Questions or contact the Office of Admission at 800.SMC.8000 or


History of Rock

Taught by William L. Ellis, Associate Professor of Music

Dr. Ellis has been teaching History of Rock since his days living and working in the cradle of rock and roll, Memphis, Tennessee. There he got to hear, interview, and know the city’s many hall-of-fame figures and innovators, from Sun Records producer Sam Phillips, Rufus Thomas, and Isaac Hayes to Al Green, Three 6 Mafia, and Justin Timberlake. Ellis brings that perspective to his compelling look at rock’s storied past, which starts with the musical and cultural roots of the genre and extends through the 1950s pioneers (Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, et al.) to Bob Dylan, the British Invasion, psychedelia, arena rock, punk, grunge, and much more.

The online course is organized in ten chronological modules, each with four content elements (readings, professor’s notes, Spotify playlists, and videos) and four assessed elements (questions based on the readings, individual content-driven responses, group discussion threads, and a class blog that allows students to stay connected by posting on issues, discoveries and various course prompts). Pioneering music figures also speak to the class through video conferencing, and past guests have included such notables as Elvis Presley pal George Klein, Mission of Burma founder Roger Miller, Bob Dylan singer Regina McCrary, Justin Timberlake guitarist Elliott Ives, and Grammy-winning producers Norbert Putnam (Jimmy Buffett) and Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana, and Steve Miller).

By the end of the course, you will not only learn when, where, and why rock showed up when it did, but you’ll know more about its most important innovators and styles, how it has constantly changed to meet the times, and how the artists of the past continue to inform the music of today. Mostly, no other college class offers the opportunity to hear history quite like this one.

Course Overview

Concepts in Chemistry

Taught by Dr. Christina Chant, Professor of Chemistry

This course will provide students with an introduction to the basics of chemistry, including the development of our understanding of the structure of the atom, how compounds and molecules are formed, balancing simple chemical equations, the behavior of gases, energy, and a brief introduction to the basic math involved in chemistry. Although chemical concepts are covered, the main goal of this course is to show how chemistry provides the framework for a variety of topics, including nuclear power, green chemistry, and cosmetics and personal care products. This course does not assume you know chemistry and are a math star; however, we will look at some simple conversions and basic math operations as they relate to chemistry problems.

The course is developed to be entirely online and is divided into six modules. Each module covers several chapters in the selected text and involves readings, recorded lectures by the professor, online homework, and discussion boards focusing on real-life applications of the module topics. Supplemental videos are recommended to support learning. A small number of at-home experiments will be included. Students will demonstrate their knowledge through online exams and will present a final project on a topic of their choosing. Previous project topics have included the chemistry of baking, nuclear chemistry, microplastics, and the chemistry of stars. This course will show students what an introductory science course at Saint Michael’s College feels like in terms of how the faculty and students work together to develop a deeper understanding of the connections between topics.

Dr. Chant likes to tell her students that she actually disliked chemistry in high school but found herself enjoying it quite a bit when she entered college as a premed major. She fell in love with teaching when she was a chemistry graduate student at Penn State. Her teaching experience is varied and includes introduction to chemistry for non-science and allied health majors (both online and face-to-face), general chemistry, biochemistry, physical chemistry, and senior seminar. She’s also taught organic chemistry lab. Because she had been so uncomfortable with chemistry in high school, she understands the fear many students have when starting a chemistry class. She develops her courses, including this one, to address the important topics in chemistry in a supportive, understanding environment.

Course Overview

Current Issues in World Politics

Taught by Jeffrey Ayres, Professor of Political Science

This course provides students with an introduction to controversies and debates in world politics, focusing on “global problems”– challenges emerging across the international environment, which individual countries are unable to address effectively on their own. Global problems increasingly challenge the existing structure of the international system, which is still anchored by the centuries-old concept of state sovereignty. We will explore a number of vexing global problems, including nationalism and secession, weak or failed states, human security including human trafficking, nuclear proliferation, terrorism and transnational crime, globalization and global climate change. This course does not presuppose any prior study of politics or political science, and does not intend to provide you with an exhaustive account of global political issues. Rather, it will introduce you to frameworks and concepts that may help us to appreciate the challenges posed by global issues.

Through a hybrid classroom/online format, this course will familiarize students with a level of regular intellectual engagement expected of an introductory course, while encouraging the development of faculty-student exchange and mentoring expected at Saint Michael’s College. Weekly assignments in the course will include: engaging in online threaded discussions, watching and writing film reviews, reading international news and writing press reports, and short thematic quizzes. Learning objectives include: familiarizing oneself with the complexity of world politics in a globalized era, understanding the characteristics of a variety of global problems, becoming conversant in current international events, understanding some of the major tools of political analysis for understanding international conflict and change.

Course Overview

Sustainability: An Environmental Science Perspective

Taught by Karen Talentino, Professor of Biology

An overview of the challenges to global sustainability, from an environmental science perspective. Major course units will include biodiversity, natural resources, energy, water, food and global climate change. Includes a study of scientific dimensions of challenges to sustainability, and a discussion of ethical dimensions of these challenges, as well as a call to action on both a local and global scale.

Course Overview

Personal Financial Planning

Taught by Thomas Van Dzura, Professor of Accounting

For most students, the start of their collegiate career also signifies the beginning of their financial independence. This transition can certainly be a time of excitement, intense questioning, and often worry. Students may wonder, for instance, what are my career or employment aspirations? How do I build a budget? When is it time to start saving for the future? How do I save? Should I rent or own my first home upon graduation? What kind of car can I afford? What is retirement planning and should I start it now? What insurance coverages and plans are essential and how to I acquire them? Affirming this universal life-stage contemplation, a national survey and research conducted by Ohio State University in 2015 found that 70% of college students were concerned about their personal finances.

Set in an online classroom environment that promotes regular engagement, personal connections, and a strong sense of Saint Michael’s College community between students (and instructor), this proposed course serves to help students engage, comprehend, and successfully address the key questions noted above. This course covers key principles, processes, and techniques related to managing one’s own personal finances. The goal is for students to make more informed personal finance decisions and be wiser money managers, and consumers of financial services and products. Specific topics include personal financial statements and budgets, basics of federal income taxes, time value of money, financial institutions and services, consumer credit, purchasing strategies, selecting housing (rent vs buy), insurance (renters, automobile, health, disability), and fundamentals of retirement planning.

Course Overview

*SMC First Class is offered free to students who enroll in Saint Michael’s College in Fall 2020. For students who do not enroll at Saint Michael’s and would like to transfer their credits to their enrolling school, they will be charged $1,500. The fee to transfer these credits would be waived for students eligible for a Pell Grant, based on the 2020-2021 FAFSA.