First Year Leadership Institute

The First-Year Leadership Institute (FYLI) is one of the premier leadership development opportunities offered to first-year students at the University of Minnesota (U of M). Student leaders are an essential part of the U of M community and being a good leader doesn’t happen by accident. FYLI is designed to help build the leadership skills of emerging student leaders on campus.

FYLI is a cohort-based, intensive leadership development program designed for incoming U of M students who are enthusiastic, curious, and empowered to begin their leadership journey on the U of M campus! The program focuses on developing students’ self-awareness around leadership ideas and competencies as related to personal passion, group development, and contribution to the greater good.

Program Structure

Each year, a select group of 30-35 first-year students will join this semester-long program that is designed to enhance leadership skills and build community among emerging first-year leaders and at the university. The program will begin at the beginning of the Spring semester for selected participants. At the beginning of the semester, students will spend two days at a team-building retreat. Throughout the semester, students attend required Wednesday night meetings, meet with a mentor, and work on a campus engagement project.

Program Details

Who is it for?

The First-Year Leadership Institute (FYLI) was designed specifically with first-year students in mind. Some of these students may have already stepped into leadership positions on campus during their first semester. Other students may not have had much (if any) experience in the past and may not think of themselves as a leader yet, but might be interested in the idea. Wherever you might fall along this spectrum, the FYLI can be a challenging and fulfilling experience.

While you are not required to be in the FYLI to be a leader on campus, being a part of this program provides the opportunity to become immersed in the leadership community at the University of Minnesota. FYLI will prepare you for future leadership positions, enhance your personal development as a leader and help you to take ownership of your college experience. Oh, and it's fun too!

What do you do?

  • Weekend Retreat
    • Opening Ceremony aside, the weekend retreat is the real beginning of the program. Students are transported to an off-site retreat facility where they will meet and connect with the rest of the group while participating in team-building activities.
  • Weekly Meetings
    • Participants will meet as a group every Wednesday of Spring semester from 6:30-9:00PM. During these meetings, students will learn about leadership from guest speakers, discussions and activities.
  • Mentor Program
    • Participants will be connected with a talented group of student leaders. Mentors will meet with participants during weekly meetings and will help participants develop their personal and leadership skills.

How to Apply

Applicants must meet the following qualifications for entrance into FYLI:

  • Be in your first year as an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota (this includes students coming from high school or another college or university)
  • Agree to commit to the necessary time and effort to complete the program (see the application for details).

Application Directions

Complete the FYLI Interest Form and we'll send you a reminder to apply. The application for the 2025 cohort will be available in Fall 2024.  

Don't hesitate to ask questions! Contact us at for more information.