Learning communities help freshmen adjust to university life
By Lori Wright
Freshmen at Purdue University are faced with many new challenges. They are surrounded by 38,000 students, of whom they only know a handful, if any at all. They are given more responsibility and freedom than every before, and they are expected to excel academically as well as socially. Given all this, the experience of being a freshman can be overwhelming.
Purdue has set out to help students through these challenges, not only enabling them to survive but also helping them to succeed through the learning communities program. "The learning community has not only helped me meet different kinds of people, it has also helped me in my studies," said Cassandra Caudill, a freshman in the College of Agriculture and member of the Animalia Learning Community.
Learning communities are groups of 25-50 students with the same major or similar interests who take classes together. They also get the opportunity to live together in residence halls and go on group field trips led by instructors.
Students in learning communities have a 4 percent better retention rate from their freshmen to sophomore year. About 88 percent of students involved in learning communities return to Purdue their sophomore year versus 84 percent of students who do not participate, according to the Purdue University Data Digest.
In addition to the Animalia Learning Community, agriculture students interested in animals or forestry and natural resources can join the Wood, Water and Wild Wonders Learning Community. Students majoring in agricultural education can be a part of the Agricultural Education Learning Community. "Overall, I am so glad that I joined a learning community; it has really helped me with getting accustomed to college life in general," Caudill said. "I recommend it to all Purdue students."