Learning communities have been a part of the University of Connecticut since 2002 building friendships and helping new students adjust to the college experience. Many types of communities exist for students to find others with similar interests and find tools that help them during their years at the university. Learning communities have grown since their introduction to the university, and the university now has more options and greater participation. These communities provide great opportunities and build friendships. The university should consider further developing its learning communities as a priority.
UConn offers many diverse learning communities such as Global House, WiMSE (Women in Math, Science and Engineering), EcoHouse, Eurotech and ScHOLA2RS House (Scholastic House of Leaders who are African American Researchs and Scholars). These communities offer surround students with a group of people that share a common interest and provide them with resources both to explore and help themselves succeed. The university continuously creates learning communities when they see the need. ScHOLA2RS House is an example of this; it was introduced in Fall 2016 and so far it has been a great success. The community offers great experiences to its students. For example, second year students will spend their spring break traveling to Salvador as a way to learn about African heritage. Other great opportunities that learning communities offer include tutoring, guest speakers, access to faculty and guidance on career options which complement student needs.
Learning communities offer connections to students with similar interests and provide unique experiences, but they are not a replacement for exploring opportunities offered through different groups and organizations throughout the whole university. These communities provide a safe space and a group of friends, but this can become almost isolating to the rest of the experiences offered. The intercommunity activities encouraged by learning communities are one way to expose students to different people and interests. However, it is important to remind learning community students that while learning communities can be a large part of a student’s college experience, it is important to seek various experiences through the diverse organizations the university offers.
The director of first-year programs and learning communities said that 40 percent of the incoming class belongs to a learning community. It is great that these programs are expanding, and students who chose to live in one of these communities should take advantage of the events and opportunities they offer. The university should also make sure to emphasize these communities and their benefits so the program can continue to grow.
Alyssa Luis is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus opinion section. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.