The Learning Cluster for First-Year Students

Wondering how to do it all?

The Learning Cluster:

  • Connects you with peers while building friendships
  • Connects you with faculty in an active and unique learning environment
  • Connects you with resources for academic and social success
  • Connects ideas from different classes to make sense in the real world

About the Learning Cluster

What is it?
A Learning Cluster is when incoming students register for two classes as a cohort. Faculty teaching these classes will be working as a team, and the content and the assignments among the courses will be linked together. Participants register for:

  • HIST 112
  • POL 212
  • GEN 100

Why have the Learning Cluster at Malone?
Researchers have found that when students participate in learning communities they establish meaningful friendships, are more likely to have strong academic and social experiences, are more likely to continue in college, and are better able to see how different courses connect with each other.

Does it cost more?
No, but it has plenty of benefits!

Can everyone do it?
Any first year student can, but not everyone. Space is limited to 40 students so participation is on a "first-come/first-served" basis.

Will it take extra time?
Besides classes, the Learning Cluster will have a number of outside-of-class experiences (and adventures!). Some of these will be evening activities or meals together, and doing things off campus. At the same time, the cluster can "save" time through shared assignments across classes, the benefit of outside activities for in-class work, and the nature of developing collaborative relationships for studying, checking notes, and working on assignments.

What do Cluster students say?

I really didn't know what to expect when I came here in August: who I would meet, what classes would be like, etc. The Cluster helped ease me into this whole new environment by giving me a group of people to identify with. Being with a set group of freshmen that shared my situation was comforting, and it lessened the shock of my first couple of months away from home. — Andrew 

The Learning Cluster is a great way for incoming freshmen to quickly meet new people and build strong friendships. Coming to campus for the first time can make students anxious but it was nice to have a large chunk of my schedule with people I was familiar with. The activities that Learning Cluster offers allow students to build strong relationships with both students and professors, which makes the whole transition into college much smoother. Everyone in the Cluster eventually gets so close that being around this group of people was very easy. I would never take back being in the Cluster my first semester - it was too much fun and I met too many good people! — Nick

The Cluster, for me, was an incredible experience. Academically, the Cluster alleviated so much stress from the first semester that I almost felt bad for my non-Cluster peers! Having the same group of classmates (who, by the way, all knew each other quite well from Cluster activities) was absolutely beneficial. Not only did I benefit from having the same classmates for three courses, but the fact that the professors of those classes worked together as well made things phenomenally better. The collaboration on the part of the professors to achieve a successful Cluster was key in my experience. 

People from the Cluster met frequently for study groups and homework help - a result that directly stems from the fact that we were all VERY comfortable with one another. The bonding and the friendships that formed that first semester were undoubtedly because of the opportunities afforded to us from the Cluster. And, contrary to what others may assume, this type of exclusivity did NOT prohibit us from integrating with the rest of our freshman class. We were immersed into college life just as everyone else was. The difference was that we had developed a core - a tight knit group of colleagues and friends in the process.

The Cluster was foundational in my college experience. It made lasting memories for me and taught me what college is all about: Growing - academically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. — Lee 

Where can I find more information?