FAQs - Learning Communities | Briar Cliff University

Learning Communities: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why does BCU have learning communities?

At Briar Cliff, we believe that by building relationships we can build our community, and by building our community we can help transform the world. Our goal is to create a new generation of pioneers, critical thinkers immersed in exploration and discovery through service.

We aim to foster engagement, intellectual development, and personal and professional growth.Through our learning communities will help to develop you — the leader of tomorrow —through the experience of service to others today. 

What are the benefits of a learning community?

Studies show that students in learning communities earn higher grades, make friends faster and graduate at higher rates than students who don’t.

Studies also show that learning communities usually result in higher academic achievement better retention rates, greater satisfaction with college life, improved quality of thinking and communicating, better understanding of self and others, and greater ability to bridge the gab between academic and social life.

By the end of your first-year experience at BCU, we think you’ll be a more confident public speaker, a better writer and a more engaged citizen. At the very least, you’ll find a group of friends with some of the same interests.

Do I live with my learning community?

No, learning communities are centered around an academic experience, and learning inside and outside of the classroom. It’s not a place where you’ll actually live. Most freshmen live in the residence halls on campus. 

How do I choose a learning community?

BCU has a dozen unique learning communities, so there are a wide variety of options to choose from. Check out the learning community homepage for a brief description of each community and get a feel for each one, or browse the learning community handbook. Then, during summer orientation, you’ll sit down with an advisor and make a choice.

How many students participate in learning communities?

Every incoming freshman at Briar Cliff belongs to a learning community. 

What if I can’t decide a learning community to pick?

Don't worry — during summer orientation, your advisors will help you choose a group that's right for you. If one doesn’t stand out, take a risk and try something new. That’s what college is all about!

Do transfer students have to enroll in a learning community?

Any transfer student who enrolls at Briar Cliff with less than 12 credits should enroll in learning community. 

Can I be in any learning community I want?

For the most part. There are, however, a few restrictions on certain communities. For example, one community is only for majors in the sciences, and another is meant specifically for nursing students. Another community is for “honors students only.”

There are also a few other pre-requisties, which have to do mostly with what courses you took in high school. Your advisor will go over these requirements. 

What are the required classes for learning communities?

You and your learning community friends will co-enroll in three of the same classes during Fall Semester. They are:

You and your learning community friends will co-enroll in three of the same classes during Fall Semester. They are:

  • CORE 100: Franciscan Life
  • CORE 120M: Freshman Seminar
  • WRTG 100: College Prep Writing -OR- WRTG 109: Intro to College Writing -OR-  SPEC 111: Introduction to Public Speaking 

Then during the 12-day “J-Term,” you’ll branch out from your learning community and sign up for a service project that interests you. That class is titled:

Are there the same learning communities every year?

No. We’re constantly tweaking the group of learning communities to find the best possible opportunities for students. We keep some communities, let others evolve and scrap a few altogether!

What if I don’t like my community?

You are eligible to switch communities before the second week of first semester, only if you meet specific requirements and if there are open seats. If the reason for a student needing or wanting to make a community shift is connected to a writing reassessment, then that reassessment and re-evaluation must happen prior before the university add/drop deadline to ensure that the appropriate switch can be made by the deadline. 


Kristen Twedt

"This experience has helped me with my graduate school applications, learning how to present under different situations (classroom vs research presentation) and to different audiences and how to adapt to these differences," said Kristin.

Kristin Twedt

Biology Major, Psychology Minor