Published: April 5, 2021
Academic advisor meets with student

The First Year Experience (FYE) program is expanding its offerings through a new multiyear initiative that will increase the accessibility of learning communities to all incoming residential and commuting first year students.

“It is important for us to provide all first year students with an experience that promotes their engagement with campus and creates a sense of belonging for them,” said Mary Kraus, vice provost and associate vice chancellor for undergraduate education, who co-led this initiative with Ann Schmiesing, executive vice provost for academic resource management. “Building these connections to campus life increases the potential for students to remain at CU Boulder and complete their undergraduate degrees here,” Kraus said.

This FYE initiative follows substantial engagement with and input from stakeholders including faculty and staff committees, the Boulder Faculty Assembly, and deans. It also aligns with recommendations from several cross-campus committees, which include the RAP Task Force (2017), IDEA Plan (2019),and Foundations of Excellence (2019).

Existing residential academic programs (RAPs) and Living Learning Communities (LLCs) will reopen in fall 2021 at regular staffing levels. LLCs in Engineering and Student Affairs will continue in the 2021–22 academic year, and a new LLC for students in the Program in Exploratory Studies (PES) and A&S OPNO (open option) will be created.

“As part of this multiyear initiative, we plan to examine and, in some cases, shift existing program locations. We also plan to add additional LLCs, including learning communities for commuter students,” said Schmiesing. Additional LLCs will be phased in over several years to allow time for a proposal process and a funding model to be developed.

Student Affairs and the Office of Undergraduate Education have established a First Year Experience Advisory Board, with representatives from the schools and colleges, the Office of Undergraduate Education, the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of the Registrar, the Office of Admissions, and Budget and Fiscal Planning.

The advisory board is currently developing guidelines and procedures for the development of new LLCs. Equity of access and location will guide decisions made by the advisory board. 

“The campus already has numerous RAPs, but only four LLCs. By building out LLCs while retaining RAPs, we will be able to offer students a robust and engaging menu of first year residential experiences,” Kraus said. “Creating additional LLCs addresses concerns regarding RAP equity and access by ensuring that all incoming first year students can participate in first year experience programs without financial barriers.”

A request to halve the RAP fee from $850 to $425 will be presented to the Board of Regents for approval in April.