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First Year Community Engaged Learning

First Year Community Engaged Learning (FYCEL) is a graduation requirement that brings the College’s values to life, and introduces students to the culture of the campus and community. First Year students will complete their FYCEL requirement by taking the course IDS103, which is a two-week course that consists of three in-class sessions and one half day of service that addresses one of the unmet needs of the local or regional community. 

The First Year Community Engaged Learning (FYCEL) Experience 

The CCE works with all First Year students to complete the FYCEL graduation requirement through the non-credit course IDS103. The course is a four day experience, consisting of two 80-minute education class sessions, one half day of service, and one 80-minute reflection class session. This model provides the students with an introduction to what community engaged learning is and some context for them to go into service. The final session of the course allows students to reflect on their service experience to deepen awareness of social issues and to cultivate an interest in continuing to serve communities. All students will need to complete Travel Waiver and Photo Release forms.


All First Year students are enrolled in the non-credit course IDS103 that appears on their transcripts to complete the FYCEL graduation requirement. CEL staff enroll students in PAWS during drop add week in the fall or spring semester of their first year. To manage student participation, all First Year students are also entered into their own individual Canvas community, one for each FYCEL Experience. This allows CEL staff to communicate directly with the students and faculty and post important items, such as assessment tools.

Education Sessions

There are two 80-minute education class sessions in IDS103 facilitated by a TCNJ faculty or staff member. The course will introduce students to the historical and contemporary contexts of Trenton and TCNJ. 

The learning objectives for IDS103 are:

  • Introduce concepts and facilitate experiences for students that increase knowledge and build skills through intellectual inquiry, social-emotional development, and self reflection 
  • Inspire and support students to lead lives of critically-informed community engagement by focusing on interpersonal and institutional dynamics of systems and structures 


Students will complete a half-day of service as part of their IDS103 course. The day of service is scheduled by the CCE staff with a local community partner and will be based on a community-identified need. Transportation will be provided and arranged by the CCE staff through the use of on campus vans. 

Students will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills from the two educational days of the course and learn about a local community partner by participating in the service experience as a contribution to sustaining and enhancing communities. Students will be introduced to opportunities to continue participating in CEL within and beyond TCNJ.

Some past and current partners include Arm in Arm, Latin American Legal Defense and Education, TDI Connect, CYO, East Trenton Collaborative, Sprout U of the Arts, Mercer County Park Commission, NJ Watershed Ambassadors Program, TCHS All-Year Scholars, and Children’s Futures. 

Reflection Session

The last day of IDS103 is an 80-minute class session facilitated by the same TCNJ faculty or staff where students reflect on their service experience. Throughout the 4-day course, students are instructed to complete a one page assignment, which they will finish with their reflection and submit at the end of class. Students will be graded at the end of the semester and receive a passing grade for completing all of the requirements of the course.


Following the course, students are asked to complete a post-survey to provide feedback on their FYCEL Experiences. The following is a sample of feedback that the CCE has been proud to receive from previous First Year students’ evaluations. 

“I had a great time. I really enjoyed interacting with the kids and I will definitely look into further volunteering opportunities.”

“I felt like I was able to make a difference in just a few hours.”

For questions regarding CEL scheduling and/or grades, please email: