Being on a large, state-school campus can be intimidating without a supportive and inspirational community to belong to. At CU Boulder, the Presidents Leadership Class provides this community for the approximately 200 student members of the program. This core community makes the large campus feel more intimate and individualized - our students get personalized and directed attention and support starting their first day on campus. We excel at providing a rich first year experience full of courses, experiential learning, community activities, and dedicated staff/faculty support that welcomes and leads our students into college. It is primarily the first year experience of freshmen in PLC that creates for them a strong connection to the program, the university, their peers, and to their education.
Below is a list of everything that we do as a program to enhance the freshman year for our First-Year students. Students are not required to do every activity or take advantage of each and every resource, but we pride ourselves on providing ample opportunity for every member of PLC to feel fully integrated into the program and the university within their first year.
- Applied Leadership Wilderness Course
- Summer Reading
- Welcome Dinner
- PLC Freshmen Orientation
- Student Handbook
- Major/Academic/Career Coaching
- Online PLC/LinkedIn Profiles
- First-Year Courses
- First-Year Class Advisors
- Professional Staff/Faculty & Student Meetings
- Board Parents
- Experiential Weekends
- The PLC Peer Leadership Connection (PLC^2)
- Community Events
- Take PLC Home
- PLC Now Newsletter
Applied Leadership Wilderness Course (ALWC): The ALWC, offered exclusively to PLC students, consists of a three-day classroom component followed by a seven-day backcountry wilderness experience. This course is open to admitted PLC freshmen and they are encouraged to participate the summer before starting their journey at CU Boulder. However, the course is available every summer throughout their college career and is transformative no matter when it is taken.
Summer Reading Assignments: First-Year PLC students are assigned reading over the summer focusing on different styles of leadership and deep self-analysis/awareness. These readings are examined and discussed at the First-Year Orientation - students begin to get to know one another while engaging in important conversations with new peers. This collective learning experience offers an opportunity for group bonding, self-reflection, and lays the foundation for the cohort community that will continue to grow throughout the first year.
Welcome Dinner: The First-Year cohort is welcomed into the PLC community with a large dinner hosted at the Koenig Alumni Center on campus. New students, parents, student staff members, professional staff and faculty, Board of Advocates members, and sophomore orientation leaders are all invited to enjoy a BBQ dinner while meeting one another and gearing up for the academic year ahead. This is not a required event but rather an informal and energizing way to meet fellow incoming students and to recover from a long day of dorm move-in.
Freshmen Orientation: The weekend before classes start is reserved for PLC First-Year Orientation. This is, historically, one of the most influential and memorable experiences for PLC students. Freshmen meet at the UMC fountains early on Saturday morning, take busses up to Cal-Wood Outdoor Education Center, partake in day-long activities and discussions that integrate them into their new community, square dance late into the night, meet their First-Year Class Advisor and recitation members, and kick-off their four-year PLC journey together.
Student Handbook: Each year PLC publishes a handbook that is only issued to the current First-Year students. The handbook provides information about the history, present, and way forward for the program. CU and PLC policies, program requirements, student staff position descriptions, and other resources are all made available in the handbook. This book serves as one tier of the PLC support system and is bolstered by many other in-person and online sources that help students learn what is means to be part of the program and the university.
Major/Academic/Career Coaching: PLC students will have major/academic advisors in their respective departments, however, they also have a dedicated professional staff that can provide coaching and guidance for students who are still exploring their major options upon matriculation, are changing their major due to a change of heart/mind, are thinking of adding a second major or a dual degree, etc. Certain PLC professional staff members are trained in conducting informal interest, value, skill assessments and exclusively offer these services and support to PLC students.
First-Year Courses & Recitations: Each cohort is truly created and solidified in the two first-year courses and the affiliated recitations. First-Year students are required to take PRLC 1810- Leadership Foundations & Applications I in the fall semester and PRLC 1820- Leadership Foundations & Applications II in the spring semester. Students attend lecture every Tuesday evening from 6:00-8:00pm and then meet in smaller recitation groups on Thursday afternoons/evenings. The familiarity of the peer group allows for strong bonds to be made over the course of the year.
First-Year Class Advisors: Six upperclassmen PLC students are staffed as First-Year Class Advisors (CAs). These students attend Tuesday night lecture with the First-Year students, run the recitations on Thursday afternoons, plan and strategize with the course professor each week, review and advise on academic papers and presentations, and serve as mentors for the students. First-Year CAs are hugely influential in the lives of the First-Year students and act as the first line of support for our freshmen.
Professional Staff/Faculty & Student One-on-One Meetings: Written into the syllabi for 1810 and 1820 is a requirement to schedule and meet with each professional staff member once each semester for the first year. These touch points are integral communication sessions allowing the staff to get to know each student well and learn about their future desires and plans. This is also an opportunity for First-Year students to get acquainted with the staff members - learning that we are here to support the PLC students in all we do for the program.
Board Parents: Board of Advocates members act as Board Parents to First-Year students. This is not a formal advising or mentoring relationship, rather an informal connection between current students and the board. Board Parents meet their assigned First-Year students at the Welcome BBQ, then stay in touch throughout the year. Many groups go to coffee or plan dinner once over the semester when scheduling allows.
Experiential Weekends: These one-and-a-half-day weekend trips are university level field trips that are academically focused on the top economic drivers in the state of Colorado. First-Year students are required to go on a least one trip in their first year, if not complete the two-trip requirement for the program. The weekends are informational, inspirational, and fun for the twelve students that attend each trip.
PLC Peer Leadership Connection (PLC^2): As of the fall of 2017, PLC has a peer-to-peer mentorship program that connects First-Year students to upperclassmen in the program. The Senior Class Coordinator runs the program and carefully matches upperclassmen to freshmen based on similar majors, interests, hometowns, future goals, etc. Peers are free to plan and meet as often or as little as they like and build collegial relationships outside of official PLC programming.
Community Events: The academic year is packed with PLC community events - annual cohort orientation events, annual day of service, CLA Summit, professional excellence dinner series, intramural sports, recitation olympics, progressive dinners, special guest speakers, alumni events, etc. The community of PLC students is often the most lasting and meaningful facet of the program. Though our academic courses are excellent, our professors are exceptional, and our programming impactful, it is the peer community that stays with students throughout college and far beyond.
Take PLC Home: First-Year students begin to experience ownership of the program as they return to their high schools as PLC ambassadors. Through our Take PLC Home initiative, First-Year students have the option to get trained on how to speak about the program and their student experience to interested high school juniors and seniors. They then return to their high school and present for a class, leadership class, student council, student government, student club, etc. Though voluntary, Take PLC Home is an important step in discovering individual connections to the program and all its merits.
PLC Now Newsletter: First-Year students are automatically subscribed to the weekly online newsletter - PLC Now. This newsletter provides information about events and opportunities available to all PLC students. The emailed newsletter is part of the support system that extends opportunities and resources to PLC students.