First-Year Programs: Building Community

Marisol Contreras

Let’s face it; college is hard. Fortunately, a new program is being piloted this year by Director of First-Year Programs Gil Gonzalez, aimingto alleviate this pressure on incoming first-years by introducing new INTD 101 classes. 

Currently, there are seven of these one-credit INTD 101 sections, which are titled “Exploring Your LIB Art Community.” They were created in an effort to enrich the liberal arts curriculum and ease first-year students into the college lifestyle.

Each class is comprised of 14-16 students and is led by one professor. These classes are linked with 2-3 other classes, the main one being the first-year writing seminar. 

Doubling as advisors for the students, professors from various departments teach these weekly 50-minute courses in either the Dezember Alumni House or Garett House. 

These courses were created to foster a better sense of community among new students and improve their study habits. In these link classes, students are given the chance to not only speak openly with each other about their college experiences, but also with their professors, thereby getting a variety of perspectives on the difficulties they might face.

With Socratic seminar-style conversations, students have the opportunity to voice any confusion that they might have regarding anything,  ranging from coursework to campus events or activities in the general LA area. 

Some events forthese classes are campus tours, dinners, academic advisement sessions, study skills workshops, and presentations on the liberal arts curriculum, Center for Advising and Academic Success, Leadership Experience and Programs, and the Career Center. 

Given that this is the first year of the program, currently there isn’t much data on the effectiveness of the class, other than the nebulous feelings of the student body. One student, first-year Justin Hernandez, believes that the class is a “good socializing agent” and effectively immerses him into college culture. 

On the other hand, some students miss class or space out during discussions. Only time will tell whether or not the new link classes serve their purpose.