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. These leaders can be found all over campus as officers of student organizations, Orientation Leaders, and in-and-around the University community. However, 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, building community with other emerging first-year leaders, and connect first-year students to the U of M community. 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. During the course of the rest of the semester, students will be required to attend 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 its 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 really 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 a first-year undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota
  • Agree to commit to the necessary time and effort to complete the program (see the application for details).

Application Directions

Apply Here to be part of our 2024 cohort.

Don't hesitate to ask questions! Contact the FYLI Coordinators for more information at