A Strategic Approach
At a large public university such as Georgia State, freshmen can feel overwhelmed by the size and scope of the campus and choices they face. Freshman Learning Communities (FLC) organize the freshman class into cohorts of 25 students arranged by common academic interests, otherwise known as “meta majors:” STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), business, arts and humanities, policy, health, education and social sciences. Students travel through their classes together, building friendships, study partners and support along the way. Research shows students in learning communities not only are retained but graduate at rates four points above those of non-FLC students. Almost 80% of this fall’s freshman class are in FLCs. Requiring all students to choose a meta-major puts students on a path to degree that allows for flexibility in future specialization while ensuring their early course credits will count towards their final majors. Meta majors provide clarity and direction in what would otherwise be a confusing and unstructured registration process.
How It Works
When students register, they are are required to enroll in one of seven meta majors: STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), Arts & Humanities, Health, Education, Policy & Social Science, and Exploratory. Once students have selected their meta-major, they are given a choice of several block schedules, which are pre-populated course timetables including courses relevant to their first year of study. On the basis of their timetable selection, students are assigned to Freshman Learning Communities consisting of 25 students who are in the same meta major and take classes according to the same block schedules. They also take a one-credit-hour course providing them with essential information and survival skills to help them navigate the logistical, academic and social demands of the university. Academic departments deliver programming to students—alumni panels, departmental open houses—that help students understand the practical differences among majors within each meta major.
A new career-related portal allows students in meta majors and beyond to explore live job data, including number of jobs available in the Atlanta region, starting salaries and correlative to majors and degree programs. The portal also suggests careers students may be unaware of and shares job data about them.
Improving 1st Year GPA
Students in Freshman Learning Communities Perform Better
- No FLC
Students in Freshman Learning Communities Stay
- No FLC