UC Student Employee Emphasizes the Benefits of Campus Community
Brian McCloy says UC’s learning communities create a small, personalized network of learners on a large college campus – a vital academic and social support system for new students.
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Andrew Higley
Brian McCloy, a University of Cincinnati senior communication major, participated in a UC learning community when he was a freshman. As an upperclassman, the Elder High School graduate became a peer leader for UC’s learning communities program and gave new students his own personal perspective of searching for the right major and staying on track academically. Now, as co-captain of the 42 peer leaders for UC’s learning communities, McCloy educates freshmen and their parents about the benefits of learning communities during UC Orientation and informational fairs, and checks on how UC’s student peer leaders are progressing on building the important connections that new students need to stay successful.
A Learning Community is defined as a group of approximately 25 first-year students who take two or more courses together. This builds both academic and social support for the student. The peer leaders encourage the freshmen to take their learning beyond the classroom through discussions and social activities.
This fall, UC’s learning communities are marking their seventh year at UC as a university-wide initiative, with 90 learning communities and 1,504 first-year students enrolled in learning communities for fall quarter. Amanda Jones, program manager for the Center for First Year Experience & Learning Communities, says courses included in learning communities come from all undergraduate colleges except for the branch campuses. First-year students can take part in learning communities if they’re enrolled in the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences (A&S); College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services (CECH); College of Engineering; College of Allied Health Sciences; the Center for Access and Transition; College of Business and the Honors Scholars Program.
UC’s Learning Communities are divided into two models: Integrated-Content Learning Communities, in which instructors work together to provide a clear academic link between the two courses, and Freshmen Interest Groups – linked courses that attract students in a related major or interest. (The courses may or may not be related to each other.)
UC is among numerous research extensive institutions across the country creating the personal experience of a smaller campus through the creation of First Year Experience (FYE) programs like learning communities.
McCloy recalls that as a freshman, he joined a pre-law learning community and changed his major twice before pursuing his degree in communication. “I was a pretty average student back in high school, but college is different.” His peer leader at the time, Amanda Jones, is now the program manager for the Center for First Year Experience & Learning Communities. McCloy says Jones helped him sharpen his academic skills by educating him about all of the support services at UC and by building his skills in time management.
“Brian is a dedicated and focused student who has worked hard to be where he is today academically, professionally and personally,” Jones says. “I’m proud to think I may have had some small part in starting him off on the right foot.”
“We want to encourage students to live a balanced life their first year at UC. Get involved in the classroom but also get involved on campus,” says McCloy. He says four key learning areas focus on integrative learning:
McCloy is active in his fraternity, Delta Tau Delta, and the Student Alumni Council, as well as the Cincinnatus Honorary Society and Order of Omega Greek honorary. He spent three weeks exploring China last summer as part of a pilot program in his fraternity to award its high achieving members, a program funded by famous UC Delta Tau Delta alum, international businessman Peter Woo.
As a member of the Student Alumni Council, McCloy is co-chair of a marketing committee for UC Homecoming Oct. 28, and he says his fraternity is teaming with Beta Theta Pi fraternity to build a float for the Homecoming parade.
His advice to new students? “Step outside your comfort zone. Get to know your professors – they’re here to help you and what they’re teaching is their passion. I’ve gotten to know some of my professors and they’re incredible people.
“Take positive risks, try different things. That’s what I did, and I see how I’ve benefited from it.”