Freshman Learning Communities
MANY COLLEGE FRESHMEN HAVE FOUND their nervousness about attending college and making friends eased by joining freshman learning communities. Often called FLCs these communities could be for you if you want to dive right into college with a group of students who share similar interests.
How It Works
Freshman learning communities come in all shapes and sizes but they generally involve living under the same roof with students who have common interests. These learning communities typically come with a theme such as green living multiculturalism music art or politics. Many schools offer dozens of options and you’ll sign up for your chosen FLC before classes begin freshman year.
The Benefits of FLCs
If you join an FLC you’ll not only share a living space with its community’s members but also coursework. You’ll likely attend many of the same classes or at least share similar course schedules.
At the University of Alabama at Birmingham students in FLCs enjoy convenient schedules and special extracurricular activities based on their FLC theme. One such community called “Dollars and Sense: An Introduction to Business Economics and Personal Finance” is focused on “a practical approach to introducing students to the very real issue of managing their finances in the college environment by engaging them in creating a lifetime financial plan as well as participating in a service learning project.” In addition to offering courses to provide skills and tools to learn financial management students perform related community service activities. These have included teaching economics to fourth-grade girls. The girls were asked to come up with a business and pitch it to the students. Even 9-year-olds have dreams of opening their own business!
There are surprising perks that come along with some FLCs. In 2010 twenty-five students in Georgia State University’s (GSU) Culture and Society FLC received new iPads. The university offered these gifts as part of a mobile learning pilot program. This pilot program integrated different cool computers and gadgets into 17 of GSU’s freshman learning communities. While some groups were given iPads others were given flip cameras and camcorders in hopes that the students would record their experiences and share them extensively.
Freshman learning communities mean something a bit different at each school. In some FLCs you’ll take one or more classes with the members of your community. Others provide “connected classes” which are linked to a theme. At the University of New Mexico a “freshman seminar” is linked with another course such as public speaking that engages the students with a minimum of “lecture.”
FLCs can be a great way to ease your transition into the campus environment and rigor of college work. If it sounds like this could be for you research freshman learning communities when you start building your application list.