Carroll College, Helena Montana
Alpha Seminar

Alpha Seminar

What is Alpha Seminar?

This three credit course is taken during the first semester at Carroll College. Its purpose is to introduce first year students to the distinctive practices and values of a Catholic liberal arts education. The course revolves around an interdisciplinary project that incorporates instruction and practice in critical reading, writing and thinking.  As a discussion based course, it also provides a forum for you to discuss co-curricular issues and opportunities at Carroll. Your Alpha course instructor serves as your initial academic advisor.

But Wait!

Don't take our opinion of this special class, here are a few quotes from our 2011 Freshman class who were asked about their first impression of Alpha Seminar.

"When I first heard about Alpha Seminar, I thought it would be really boring.  After all, the course description on My Carroll said that it would be about critical reading & writing quite a bit, I think it will be fun now.  It didn't seem like my typical lecture-type class.  There was energy in the room."

"Alpha Seminar today was not what I expected.  I thought it was going to be very formal and not much fun.  we were given a peek at the creativity that will transpire throughout the semester."

"I expected Alpha Seminar to be a class where i would sit and listen to a lecture for fifty minutes, instead of getting up and getting to know my classmates.  I expected to not need to know the other students in this class; however, it is just the opposite.  I guess I expected a lecture because of the name 'seminar'."

"The Alpha Seminar class was nothing like I expected it to be.  I walked into the classroom thinking I would sitting, scrambling to make clear notes while my professor talked a million miles an hour.  This class seems a lot more casual than the rest of my courses.  For example, I can call the professor by his first name.  I thought we would be talking about the same book for a few months instead of a variety of readings."

Alpha Seminar is more than just a required class, its a place where new friends can be made, and new opinions and insights on major topics can be seen and heard every class.

What is the What

Tattoos on the Heart

Our 2014 Alpha summer reading assignment for incoming freshmen is Tattoos on the Heart by Fr. Gregory Boyle.

For twenty years, Gregory Boyle has run Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, the gang capital of the world. In Tattoos on the Heart, he distills his experience working in the ghetto into a breathtaking series of parables inspired by faith.

Arranged by theme and filled with sparkling humor and glowing generosity, these essays offer a stirring look at how full our lives could be if we could find the joy in loving others and in being loved unconditionally. From giant, tattooed Cesar, shopping at JCPenney fresh out of prison, we learn how to feel worthy of God's love. From ten-year-old Lula we learn the importance of being known and acknowledged. From Pedro we understand the kind of patience necessary to rescue someone from the darkness. In each chapter we benefit from Boyle’s gentle, hard-earned wisdom.

These essays about universal kinship and redemption are moving examples of the power of unconditional love and the importance of fighting despair. Gorgeous and uplifting, Tattoos on the Heart reminds us that no life is less valuable than another.

More on this book

Get more information about Tattoos on the Heart, including author information, reviews and purchasing information on our New Student Orientation site.