FAQ for Parents and Families
These are some of our most frequently asked qestions about SLU's Learning Community program. If you need further assistance or have other questions not answered here, please contact us.
Common questions about First-Year Interest Groups
What are Learning Communities?
At Saint Louis University a residential learning community houses a group of students on one or more floors of a residence hall with an academic unit tie such as health sciences, honors, life sciences, or a common interest such as faith and service. They all share the common goal of creating intentional educational environments that bring educators and students together to enhance student learning.
All Learning Communities are open to first year students and offer a variety of special features or programs, such as study groups, FIGs, resources, etc. The student Resident Advisors (RAs) that live on each floor help coordinate programs and activities related to the community focus. We highly encourage students to choose to co-enroll in courses (the FIGs) associated with the Learning Communities. Learning Communities are also open to freshmen commuter students.
What are First-Year Interest Groups (FIGs)?
First-Year Interest Groups (FIGs) are groups of 1-4 courses that students within Learning Communities can take together during their fall semester. On average, 20-22 first-year students are assigned to a FIG within the same Learning Community.
What is the difference between Learning Communities and FIGs?
Learning Communities (LCs) are a residential experience that provides students an opportunity to live together centered on one common interest on one or more floors. Each LC has anywhere from one to four FIGs within the community. The FIG is an additional opportunity to the LC experience for students within the LC to take some of their fall classes together. Students that select the FIG option are given preference to get into the LC. FIG students are also the first to move in.
What are the benefits of the Learning Communities?
Studies show that students are more successful when their academic experiences are integrated with other aspects of their lives. A Learning Community program allows for interaction with others who share similar interests, therefore developing a common commitment to each other's personal and academic success.
In addition, ongoing dialogue with peers and educators assists students in making personal meaning of their academic experiences thus enhancing intellectual development. The Learning Communities (and the FIGs) don't cost anything extra and they are a great way to make friends quickly and easily because you have some things in common. They're also fun!
What are the expectations of students that participate in Learning Communities?
Students are encouraged to participate in the activities and programs focused on the theme of the Learning Community. Many of the Learning Communities have established expectations for the participating members of the community. However, the programs offered will not just focus on the theme of the Learning Community but will also provide a variety of social and educational programs to assist with a student’s first year transition to the university. Making the transition from high school to college can be difficult. As you experience new freedoms, learn new routines and face new academic and personal challenges, a Learning Community can help you begin your college career on the right track. We encourage each student to become a partner in their education by becoming an active leader and learner within the Learning Community.
Do I have to take all of the classes assigned to the FIG?
You will need to take all the classes in order to maximize the benefits of participating in a FIG. However, if you have prior credit for one of the courses in a FIG, you will not be required to take that course. Do not request a FIG if you will have prior credit for at least two of the classes assigned to the FIG.
Yes, you must live in the designated residence hall in order to participate in the FIG. (exception for commuter students) Studies show that students who take classes together but don't share the same housing assignment do not derive the same benefits from this program. Keep in mind that your Learning Community may offer several different FIGs. This will give you the opportunity to make friends outside your FIG group as well.
Will my roommate be a member of my FIG?
Your roommate may be in your FIG or they might choose to be in a different one within the Learning Community. Though roommate preferences will be taken into consideration when making room assignments. If you have a roommate request, then you both need to sign up for the same Learning Community.
What if I've requested a specific roommate?
Be sure that you and your preferred roommate have requested the same Learning Community and complete your applications early. Minimally you and your preferred roommate must select the same Learning Community. You both don't have to select the same FIG options for the Learning Community to be able to live together. One or both of you can be in the FIGs offered for the preferred Learning Community. If you and your preferred roommate are planning to pursue different majors, consider requesting a Learning Community that is not focused on a specific area of study-for instance, the Careers and Majors Exploration Learning Community and the many others listed on the website that are not academic major specific. These options can best accommodate roommates with different interests.
I'd like to participate in a Learning Community. How will that affect my FIG choices?
Simply limit your preferences to those FIGs housed within the communities of your choice. For instance, if you're interested in the Heath Sciences Learning Community, select one of the FIGs that is part of this community. Keep in mind that the FIGs are attached to Learning Communities. You can not select a FIG that is assigned to a different Learning Community that you have not selected as a preference on your application.
I'm a commuter student - can I participate in the FIGs and Learning Communities?
You bet! There will be a separate application for commuter students that are interested in participating with the Learning Communities and FIGs. If placed with a FIG or Learning Community you will be associated with the floor(s) where the FIG or Learning Community is located in the residence halls. If you are placed in a FIG you will also be co-enrolled in the classes associated with the FIG.
Can I take any classes other than those in my FIG?
All students must be enrolled for 12 credit hours to be considered full-time at the university. Generally, your FIG schedule will provide you with anywhere from 5 to 10 credits depending on the selected FIG; when you meet with your academic advisor during your SLU 101 visit, you'll select additional courses to complete your schedule.
I don't have a major--should I still think about participating in a Learning Community?
Absolutely! Most of the courses offered for co-enrollment through FIGs will work toward satisfying the core requirements or elective requirements for graduation. The Careers and Majors Learning Community offers an additional opportunity to take advantage of programming geared toward helping you select a major or career. If you have an idea of what you might like to major in, you might select a Learning Community which focuses on that field and you'll have the chance to find out if this is a career you're interested in pursuing. There are other Learning Communities that are not major specific such as the Sustainable Planet, The Arts, Global Villa, Micah, Diversity & Unity, Life Sciences, and Honors.
What if I want to change my FIG or Learning Community preferences?
You can simply edit your housing application until May 1 to change your preferences for the FIGs and Learning Communities. Editing your housing application does not affect your priority date. If you are a commuter student your application will also be due May 1. Please keep in mind that a few of the Learning Communities have supplemental applications as stated in the Learning Communities descriptions. After May 1, we will begin assigning students to FIGs and Learning Communities. For those students that have selected a FIG option they will be pre-registered for the FIG classes during May. This will be completed before SLU 101 visits begin in June. If you want to make changes after May 1, you can contact us directly or let us know during your SLU 101 visit. You can adjust your FIG option with your academic advisor during the SLU 101 summer orientation program. We cannot guarantee that we can accommodate all changes but will take your new preferences into consideration.
What if I changed my mind and don't want to participate in the FIG or Learning Community?
Please let us know if you want to be removed from the FIG or Learning Community as early as possible. We will then select students from the wait lists for those options. Your housing assignment will be adjusted and you will be given a new assignment. If there isn't sufficient time to do this based on when the request was received prior to school starting then you may have to keep the same assignment. If you change your mind once moving into the residence halls then depending on room availability you may not be able to move to a different floor. However, you can still live within the Learning Community and benefit from the programs and activities.
The most common reason why students are not placed in a FIG is that their application materials are received after the placement deadline of May 1. A completed housing application must be submitted prior to May 1 in order for a student to be placed in a FIG. After initial FIG placements have been made in May, any remaining openings in FIGs are filled on a first-come, first-served basis during SLU 101 or from the initial waiting lists. FIGs are filled on a date-priority basis and are limited to about 20 students each, so getting your materials in early gives you a better chance of being accepted into the FIG of your choice.
Another reason why a student may not have been placed in a FIG is due to any requirements for the FIG such as ACT/SAT scores or program acceptance. Please review the FIG requirements as you make your choices.
Students are given priority for FIG placement based on the date their housing application was received, so it's important to apply for housing as early as possible. Furthermore, some students request FIGs that have already been filled by the time their housing application is received
There are only about 20 to 24 students in each FIG. Research has shown that FIGs of more than 24 students do not enjoy the same quality of experience. We want the co-enrollment experience to assist students in their transition and making the FIGs larger than 24 would be difficult from a registration point of view but also takes away the intimacy of the experience. Also, there is a finite amount of space in each residence hall available to new students. We will be assess the FIGs offered and make decisions each year on what will be offered for the following year.
How will I know if I was admitted into a FIG and accepted into a Learning Community?
Students will receive confirmation, via email, by the end of May if they were pre-registered into a FIG. This way they will know prior to their SLU 101 summer orientation session. Remember, if placed in a FIG part of your class schedule will have been completed for you before you arrive for your summer SLU 101 orientation session. You just need to work with your academic advisor to select the rest of your fall classes. Students will receive confirmation of their Learning Community placement in their housing assignment letter. Housing assignments are completed after the last SLU 101 session in July.
If you missed the preferred deadline of May 1 then during SLU 101 you can register for any vacancies that may be left within the FIGs and Learning Communities. The benefit of applying before May 1 increases your chance of getting your preferred choices.
The majority of courses offered in the FIGs will take care of most graduation requirements or electives for many majors. Feel free to explore Learning Communities and FIGs that fit your interests but not necessarily your major.