Dorm to host freshman living groups

Next fall, residential services will make Foster Hall the first dormitory to host a program that aims to build relationships and increase retention among freshman.The hall will be home to freshman Living Learning Communities known as freshman initiative groups, which will consist of Frog Camp groups and a Service Learning group.

The service learning freshman initiative groups will be for students who have courses that require community service as part of the curriculum, and each Frog Camp will have its own freshman initiative group, as well, said Craig Allen, director of Residential Services.

“The Frog Camp (freshman initiative group) will be fun primarily for social connections, because students really tend to connect during that experience,” Allen said. “Frog Camp is about getting people connected to TCU and showing them how fun it is to be involved and, ideally, to become leaders, and we want to continue that in the Frog Camp FIG groups.”

The new program will be like the Living Learning Communities program, which had upper class students with common interests live in the same housing community in dorms on campus, Allen said.

“It’s really about people having some identity in the place that they live and learning together with people who have something in common,” Allen said.

A focus group will be put together in the next few weeks consisting of students who lived in the living learning communities this semester, and certain changes will be made to both the living learning community and freshman initiative group programs based on that feedback, Allen said.

“The goal is to help students want to stay at TCU and feel connected, so the (freshman initiative group) program is a way of helping freshman feel like they immediately have common interests and bonds with other students,” said Bridget Breslow, director of Foster Hall.

Frog Camp registration begins in January and every student who signs up will receive information about the freshman initiative group program and how to apply, said Heather Miller, assistant director of Residence Life and freshman initiative group program coordinator.

“This first year we are going to have them apply for the program on Frog Life, starting in April, where they can express their interest in a (freshman initiative) group, and we’ll place them on a first come, first serve basis,” Miller said.

There will probably be seven groups of about 25 to 30 students in each freshman initiative group in Foster Hall, which houses about 200 students on three floors, Breslow said.

“We’d like to keep them together in little pods because when students live together and learn together, their retention rate increases and they have better memories,” Breslow said. “Because in this environment students will have a common interest between them, and it brings them together both socially and academically.”

The goal for freshman initiative group students will be to build leadership skills, lasting connections and personal growth through interaction with people who have similar interests and to continue developing each freshman initiative group’s common interest, Breslow said.

“We’ll have staff who will encourage study groups and we will provide faculty or other TCU administrators to come do programs regularly that incorporate that (freshman initiative groups’) common interest, Allen said. “It is all designed so students can have a good experience that makes what they learn and what they know that much richer.”

The number of applicants and the responses from student applications will determine if more freshman groups will be created in different halls and if other types of freshman initiative groups will be added, Allen said.