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The First Year Symposium

Got something to say?

We've got an audience.

December 1st, 4:30pm ET

In multiple Zoom spaces, on an overlapping schedule

to be announced soon . . .

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For Midd Students (& Alums*)

FY Panels

Come hear what students have been reflecting on this semester. Then join the community conversation.

As part of this year’s symposium, we’ll co-host a series of student panels, each on a topic chosen by first year students. Any current Middlebury student can be a panelist. Discussions and Q&A sessions are open to all! 

*First Semester Rants & Raves

Think about the highs and lows of your first semester at Midd – whatever year that was. Can you turn it into a 3-minute Rant and Rave?


In other words, tell us something awful and something awesome about your first few months on (or off?) campus. Come prepared, or trust the moment and see what happens! Alumni, we really want to hear from you!

*3-Minute DJ

In your first year at Midd, what song did you have on heavy rotation?


You’ve got 3 minutes to play us an excerpt and share something about it: why you recommend it, why you loved it, or the story of why you chose it … whatever you want. You're the DJ! (Open to Alums, too!)

Doubles Option: Pair up with a friend and take 6 minutes to tell each other – and us – about your top picks.

For FYS Faculty

60-Second Insights

Tell us one thing you discovered in your first year seminar. Can you convince an outside audience it’s important?

This classroom activity takes about 15 minutes start to finish. Just get the class in a Zoom room, hit record, and take a minute each to share a nugget of wisdom. Send us the recording before 4:30 Tuesday, Dec. 1, then tune into to watch! We’ll archive all entries (even late ones) and make them part of the FY Symposium ‘24 Time Capsule.

3-Minute Pitches

The best way to test your understanding of something new? Explain it to someone with no background knowledge.

In these interactive Zoom sessions, students will present their research to another First Year Seminar. The challenge: make a point, make it brief, and make it memorable. Alternating between classes, students will round off a semester of learning by reaching out to a new audience.

12-Minute Promos

Try it sometime: take a dozen minutes to promote an original idea to an audience of strangers.


In these webinar-style presentations, students will take a deep dive into their course content. Can they get their audience to dive in too? After each promo we’ll find out, when audience members engage speakers in a 3-minute Q&A.

12-Minute Panels

Why deliver it alone when you can do it tag-team-style?


In these group presentations, students will gang up on their topic to test their persuasive powers, then hear back from the audience in a short Q&A.

Why Now?

We know it was a major challenge this fall for new students to connect. And after Thanksgiving, when the semester is normally culminating, students will be even more isolated from each other, and from faculty. That’s why we think now is the time for an online event designed to: 


  • serve as a capstone assignment combining written and oral expression,

  • bring students together in a way that fuses the social with the academic,

  • take advantage of remote learning in the weeks after Thanksgiving, and

  • provide peer coaching to build oral presentation skills.


Three years ago, Oratory Now established the Spencer Prize in Oratory for First-Year Students, an annual competition that is now fully endowed. In 2018, we collaborated with FYSE instructors Robert Greeley, Michelle McCauley, Dana Yeaton, and Pat Zupan on a pilot project we called the “FYS Mini-Symposium.” Together we created not a competition, but a celebratory event that featured individual, small group,

and poster presentations. Participants had

the option of preparing with help from

OratoryNow peer coaches.


Coaches are

standing by!

Our peer coaches can work with you or your group live on Zoom. Or we'll have you submit a video and get back to you with play-by-play feedback. Either way, we've got your back!

New option for faculty!

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