Freshman students march through the arches on the St. Paul, University of St. Thomas campus.

First-Year Experience

The First-Year Experience is designed to give you a foundational experience that will help you succeed at St. Thomas and give you a sense of belonging and community during your first year. The small class sizes mean professors will know important things about you, like your name and how you learn — and as an added benefit, smaller classes make it easier to build friendships. The friends you make at St. Thomas will be part of your social and support network while in college, and after, as you look to turn great relationships into a fulfilling career.

The First-Year Experience consists of a course called Foundations for College Success and a learning community. To fullfill the learning community requirement you must participate in either a Living Learning Community (LLC) or a Theme-Based Learning Community (TBLC).

University of St. Thomas arches in the spring.

Foundations for College Success

Foundations for college success is a First-Year Experience course designed to provide students with knowledge and skills that will help them succeed at St. Thomas. This 1-credit course educates our students about university academic and social expectations, values, and resources.  Topics in the course range from campus engagement to wellbeing.

Living Learning Community

These specialized living environments help connect students with similar academic interests in and out of the classroom.

Students will take one Living Learning Community (LLC) course in the fall of their first year, and then live in the same community. Those same students participate in out-of-class learning activities with their LLC cohort. This enhances learning and helps build a relationship with faculty teaching the course. These courses will meet either a Core or major requirement.

Keep the following in mind, if you are interested in a LLC:

  • You will be pre-registered for LLC course
  • You will choose or be assigned a roommate from your LLC
  • You will live in the Residence Hall in which your LLC is located
  • You will move in early to meet your LLC cohort and faculty

Theme-Based Learning Community

The goal of a Theme-Based Learning Community (TBLC) is to provide students with an experience centered on a mission-based theme. Students will take two theme-based courses from different academic areas in the fall of their first year and will be required to participate in out-of-class activities related to the theme throughout the term. TBLC courses meet either a Core, major or enhanced requirement.

Keep the following in mind, if you are interested in a TBLC:

  • You can choose your own roommate
  • You can choose where you live on- or off- campus (ideal for commuter students)

Aquinas Scholars Honors (LLC)

Designed for and limited to First-Year students who have been accepted to the Aquinas Scholars Honors Program.

Aquinas Scholars Honors living learning community is in Tommie North Residence Hall and designed for and limited to First-Year students who have been accepted to the Aquinas Scholars Honors Program. The program is designed to enrich the educational experience of the school’s most talented and dedicated students by creating a community of scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the ideals of a liberal arts education.

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Business (LLC)

Connects students interested in any concentration within the Opus College of Business.

While living in Tommie North Residence Hall, students will build relationships with fellow business students. Through out of classroom experiences, students will explore the fundamentals of business, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

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Catholic Studies: Telos (LLC)

Explores God’s grandeur through community prayer and Mass, long dinner conversations, fireside chats, and fun cultural activities.

The Telos living learning community is in Dowling Hall and explores God’s grandeur through the whole of life. While this includes community prayer and Mass, it is also about long dinner conversations full of laughter, intimate fireside chats in Sitzmann Hall and fun cultural activities with classmates and faculty. The Telos LLC provides the option for a two-year experience, so you have the time to create friendships that can last a lifetime. Open to students from all academic fields of study together to build deep friendship, strong faith, and meaningful careers.

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Changemaking for the Common Good  (TBLC)

Consider today’s pressing social challenges through various lenses, learn how to build mutually beneficial relationships with community partners, and develop the ability to work toward innovative solutions.

The changemaking theme derives from the university’s unique designation as a Changemaker campus within the Ashoka U global consortium. In this learning community, students will think critically about today’s pressing social challenges through various lenses, learn how to act wisely to build mutually beneficial relationships with community partners through activities in and out of the classroom while developing the ability to work skillfully toward innovative solutions—all for the common good. The learning community will engage in critical thought and reflection and foster an educational environment in which students feel a moral responsibility and have the practical skills to create positive social change.

Examples of courses that fulfill this TBLC include Business 100: Business for the Common Good, Engineering 100: Introduction to Engineering Design, Entrepreneurship 100: Entrepreneurship and Innocation, Sociology 100: Intro to Sociology, and more. 

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Culture, Social Transformation, and the Common Good (TBLC)

Learn about national, ethnic, and tribal cultures, and about the arts, including music, literature, film, and visual arts.

This theme engages the creative potential and interpersonal development of students and directs them toward seeing how arts and culture are effective mediums for the transformation of thought, feeling, and belief that can lead to social change. By learning about national, ethnic, and tribal cultures, and about the arts, including music, literature, film, and visual arts students will see themselves as agents of change in the world, developing them as critical thinkers and morally responsible leaders for the advancement of the common good.

Examples of courses that fulfill this TBLC include English 121: Critical Thinking: Literature and Writing, Music 113: Music Theory and Aural Skills I, Theater 111: Introduction to Theater, and more.  

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Economic Tools for Policy and Business (LLC)

Economics, sometimes referred to the science of common sense, is an area of study deeply rooted in the principles of resource stewardship. It has well developed tools to frame and analyze situations that lead to more effective and efficient outcomes – all for the common good. This community is relevant for students of all majors, and interests (e.g., business, international, law, managerial, environment, health care, public policy, data analytics). While living in Dowling Hall, students will build relationships with other ECON 251 and 252 students and will meet with members of the Twin Cities community who use economic tools in their daily decision making. By understanding how these tools are used by individuals in households, business, government, and international agencies, students will become more thoughtful and purposeful in their careers and personal decisions.

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eMedia (LLC)

For students interested in majoring in journalism, digital media arts (video and audio production, graphic design, film, web design, photography) and strategic communications (advertising and public relations).

Emerging Media (eMedia) living learning community will appeal to students who are interested in majoring in journalism, digital media arts -- video and audio production, graphic design, film, web design, photography -- as well as strategic communication (advertising and public relations). This LLC will build community in Tommie North Residence Hall and have unique experiences that include visits to a Twin Cities television station, a newspaper and a strategic communication agency.

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Emerging Scholars (LLC)

For students interested in creating more equity, promoting diversity, and building power in their communities for social change, including Dease Scholars.

The Emerging Scholars living learning community is in Tommie North and for students who seek to become engaged leaders in social justice. This LLC brings together students who are interested in creating more equity, promoting diversity, and building power in their communities for social change. Building on foundations in theology, literature, and history, students will explore their identity and culture in its deep contexts. Doing so will prepare them for socially engaged scholarship and leadership that will improve their communities and contribute to the common good, regardless of their chosen major or field. NOTE: First-Year students who are Dease Scholars are required to participate in this LLC.

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Environmental Sustainability and the Common Good  (TBLC)

Explore the interdependent systems of social equity, economic prosperity, and the healthy functioning of ecological systems both now and in the future.

Our understanding of, and commitment to, sustainability is grounded in our identity as a Catholic university. Our vision, goals, and actions embrace the principles of care for creation, environmental stewardship, and advancing the common good. This learning community will explore the interdependent systems of social equity, economic prosperity, and the healthy functioning of ecological systems both now and in the future. Every academic area provides unique approaches to sustainability: the humanities provide insight into human thriving and our personal/spiritual relationship to nature; the social sciences enable us to understand our interactions in and with ecosystems; the natural sciences deepen our understanding of ecosystems; and business programs enable us to integrate sustainability into our work.

Examples of courses that fulfill this TBLC include Accounting 100: Principles of Accounting, Biology 207: Genetics, Ecology and Evolution, English 202: Texts in Conversations: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Philosophy 110: The Person and the Good, Spanish 211: Intermediate Spanish I, Theology 100: Foundations, and more. 

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Healthcare Professions (LLC)

Learn about different options for healthcare careers and discuss strategies for strengthening professional school applications.

Healthcare Professions living learning community will live in Tommie North Residence Hall together where they will be able to develop lasting relationships with students who are considering a career in the healthcare field. Members of this LLC learn about different options for healthcare careers and will discuss strategies for how to strengthen their professional school applications through patient contact experience, human service volunteering, and test preparation. NOTE: Students who participate in this LLC will need placement that allows them to take Biology 207 in the fall semester.

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Helping Professions (LLC)

For students who are sure that making a difference is an important part of their future profession.

The Helping Professions living learning community is for students who are sure that making a difference is an important part of their future profession. This LLC is in Dowling Hall and will learn in a community of helpers, changemakers, and advocates and explore the many ways they could use a St. Thomas degree to help people and make a positive impact in people’s lives and communities.

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Human Well-Being [Flourishing] and the Common Good  (TBLC)

Explore what makes the well-being of individuals possible and how promoting a just and healthy community addresses the common good.

Combinations of humanities, natural, and social science disciplines preparing students for healthcare, engineering and business careers that influence human well-being, and humanities disciplines that address meaning and human flourishing can address this theme.   This learning community will explore what makes the well-being of individuals possible and how promoting a just and healthy community addresses the common good.

Examples of courses that fulfill this TBLC include English 11: Critical Thinking: Literature and Writing, Philosophy 110: The Person and the Good, Theology 100: Foundations, and more.

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Pathways to Engineering (P2E) (LLC)

For students who are interested in the field of engineering.

The Pathways to Engineering (P2E) living learning community is specifically designed for students who are interested in the field of engineering. This LLC is in Dowling Hall and will have access to tutoring, project workspaces, and one-on-one mentoring and advising from P2E faculty. P2E is for to all engineering majors; Mechanical, Electrical, Computer and Civil Engineering.

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Psychology and Neuroscience (PAN) (LLC)

Explore the breadth of Psychology, with a focus on the scientific process and our many ways of knowing.

Psychology and Neuroscience (PAN) living learning community will build community in Dowling Hall, explore the breadth of Psychology, focusing on the scientific process and our many ways of knowing. Through psychological research and out of classroom experiences, students will engage in how to apply the knowledge found to address everyday problems in support of the common good.

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Social Justice for the Common Good (TBLC)

Address human rights from the lens of multiple academic areas.

Human rights are a precondition in order to ensure that all human beings can access what they need for human thriving. Different academic areas will address human rights from their own lens. For instance, political science could give a global overview of the political processes involved to establish and ensure them, history can look at how they have and have not taken root in different historical times and geographies, theology can explore the place of human rights in Catholic Social Thought, business can examine how supply chains and management practices impact human rights, and engineers can consider their ethical obligation to be concerned about human rights as they build cities and design products.

Examples of courses that fulfill this TBLC include English 110: Intensive Writing, History 113: Early American History in Global Perspectives, Justice and Peace Studies 250: Introduction to Justice and Peace Studies, Political Science 104: Government and Politics, and more.

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Sustainability (LLC)

Actively examine important environmental issues facing humanity today and conduct fieldwork with a local community partner on water issues in the Twin Cities.

The Sustainability living learning community will engage students in experiential activities to understand the complexity of key environmental themes and explore sustainable solutions. This LLC will build community in Tommie North Residence Hall and conduct fieldwork with a local community partner on water issues in the Twin Cities. Students will actively examine important environmental issues facing humanity today. 

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Wellness (LLC)

For students with a shared enthusiasm for health and well-being. Together with faculty and staff, students will explore pathways to a healthy lifestyle that help them thrive as a first-year Tommie and create lasting friendships. Students will explore physical, social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and environmental dimensions of wellness that cultivate personal health and well-being.  

This LLC will build community in Dowling Hall and allow students to experience invited guest lectures and community-focused projects. Students will engage in experiential programming and exciting activities such as: cooking for college students, wellness 5K run/walk, mindfulness meditation, kayaking, rock climbing and shared meals.

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Questions?

If you have any at all, they will be answered at your orientation. If there’s something too important to wait, contact our admissions office.