Academic First Year Experiences

  • The Freshman Connection

    The Freshman Connection

About the Freshman Connection

What is it?

A special one-semester program for incoming first-year freshmen offering students the opportunity to register for linked classes (usually General Education classes) as part of a learning community. The learning community enables new students to take an active role in their own education. Students work with outstanding faculty and advisors and participate in exciting academic classes with other freshmen, giving them the opportunity to study together and help each other succeed in their first CSUN semester and beyond.

How does it work?

Students register for a Freshman Connection cohort during their regular CSUN advisement appointment. Registration in a Freshman Connection cohort includes registration in each of the individual classes grouped together in that particular cohort.

What is a cohort?

A cohort is a group of students, usually numbering 20-25 people, who take a selected block of classes together throughout an academic term.

How do cohorts help students succeed?

By taking classes together, new students find that it is easier to manage their first term at the university. They make friends more rapidly and (according to campus data) do better academically than students who don't participate in a cohort. Faculty collaborating in the Freshman Connection also work together to support student success.

Who says so?

We have data from CSUN's office of Institutional Research to back up our claims. And we also have Nathan's word for it. Nathan was a freshman in the fall 2011 David Nazarian College of Business and Economics cohort.  Here's what he told us: "I met most of my CSUN friends in the Freshman Connection." Keep reading to find out how having friends in your classes helps you succeed.

What is a learning community?

A learning community combines at least two different classes in different disciplines or areas to highlight the connections between them. The classes are taught by faculty from the different disciplines or areas included in the community. Participating students and professors form a community of learners, working together to ask questions and discover answers.

What can a Freshman Connection learning community do for you as a student?


  1. You can interact with other students and teachers as part of a close-knit, supportive community of learners.
  2. You can work with other students on learning community activities and projects across disciplinary boundaries.
  3. You will experience a variety of teaching and learning approaches, including discussions, projects, field trips, other activities, and lectures.
  4. You'll make friends.
  5. You'll learn collaboratively. (After all, learning is a social and interactive process.)
  6. You'll increase your sense of belonging to the CSUN community.
  7. You'll get to take an active role in learning.
  8. You will be exposed to diverse ways of thinking, teaching, and problem-solving.
  9. You'll get to see teachers as learners.
  10. You'll be more likely to see the connections between disciplines and courses instead of seeing them as separate entities.

What are some benefits for faculty?

  1. Setting up a learning community builds community and often bridges the gaps between otherwise disparate parts of the university.

  2. Participating can renew faculty's commitment to the teaching/learning process.

  3. The learning community allows faculty to engage their disciplines in new ways.

  4. The opportunity to be a learner can expand and improve teaching.

  5. Faculty are motivated when they see increased engagement in their students.

  6. The new approaches faculty develop by participating in a Freshman Connection learning community are transferable: they have positive effects on teaching and learning even in traditional (stand-alone) classes faculty may be teaching.