Transform. Empower. Unexpected.
What is a truly transformative educational experience? How does the U empower students to excel both in school and after graduation? What elements must come together to create those unexpected moments of clarity and discovery we hope every student will experience in the classroom?
At the Office of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Utah we’ve dedicated the past year to searching for the answers and solutions to these questions. We’ve launched a campaign to make sure that every student attending the U has a transformative undergraduate experience.
The result is The New U Student Experience. Capitalizing on the many great academic programs and curricula that already exist while implementing new innovative initiatives, The New U Student Experience offers a holisitic approach to education, a new hands-on, engaging, and collaborative way for students to discover themselves, make connections with others, plan for their futures, and make a positive impact on the world around them.
Our work is to focus the campus on student success, implementing new ideas, revitalizing existing ones, and providing new and engaging programs so each student at the U experiences:
- Seamless navigation through the system
- Support for student success
- Encouragement to be global citizens
- Integration of knowledge
- Community engagement and connections
- Respect for diversity
- Planning to have an impact
The New U Student Experience: The Four Year Map
The core components of The New U Student Experience position you for graduation in four years, enhance your undergraduate experience with high impact programs and experiences, and help you navigate and maximize your time at the University of Utah.
At the core of your experience as an undergraduate will be learning environments that foster critical thinking and result in student learning. These will sometimes be traditional classrooms, but other times in laboratories, dance studios, archives, or in the context of volunteer activities. The New U Student Experience seeks to address your needs as whole persons—helping you choose academic experiences that will help you develop broad and deep knowledge, engage in real world application and integration, and that will put you in the company of powerful mentors or teachers.
While students are welcome to fulfill their course requirements and studies on their own, The Four-year Experience designed by the Office of Undergraduate Studies is a series of academic programs, enhancement opportunities and recommendations that students typically wouldn’t discover or have access to on their own. In combination, The New U Student Experience, goes beyond a check list of requirements to recommend a set of transformative, empowering experiences that set you up for success.
From the day you apply to the U, we want you to experience a seamless beginning so you’re prepared and excited on the first day of class. We encourage you to think about living on campus and be part of learning communities throughout your first year. Getting involved in one of the 500 student groups offered at the U—like the Freshman Council or ASUU—will help you build connections and find your place in the University community. Participation in Honors College, LEAP, ACCESS, Beacon Scholars, and Diversity Scholars among other learning communities, provides networks of peers and mentors who will help you make personal connections that will last throughout your college career and puts you in the company of supportive and inspiring teachers. Learning communities will help you integrate and move thematically through General Education. Consider taking a Block U or beginning an integrated minor.
During the second year, we encourage students to live on campus if they can to stay immersed and focused on coursework and goals. Regardless, get a job on campus! If you continue to participate in student groups you will gain vital experience outside the classroom. High impact experiences like community service projects at the Bennion Center and other outreach to the local community are encouraged. Begin building your plan for participating in study abroad, creating your own signature experience with MUSE, and getting involved in research opportunities during your second year. If you’re doing an integrated minor, take classes in General Education recommended for the theme. If you’re a Block U student, complete the second semester. Visit the Exploration Center.
Through MUSE and other high impact programs like UROP and Honors Think Tanks, you can gain valuable practical and real-world experience. In preparation for your career, get connected with internships and also shadow like-minded professionals in areas of interest as you begin planning for careers and other endeavors beyond college.
If you’re doing an integrated minor, complete a practicum or real world experience. Enter the major and get connected to your departmental advisor and other students in your field of study. Visit the career center.
The fourth year of the program encourages students to reflect on your college experience and prepare for a future beyond graduation––whether that be graduate school or entering the workforce. Participation and completion of a Capstone Project shows the range of research, community, or other work you’ve engaged in during their time at the U. Completing an ePortfolio collecting examples of their best work and ideas generated during their studies provides a tangible example of their interests and skills to future employers. Meetings with advisors and mentors allow tracking of academic progress for successful completion of your college career and preparation for the next step after graduation.
The Block U Program
The Block U Program is comprised of a set schedule of two semesters—15 hours each semester— that bundles General Education, support for student success, and integrated learning. Organized around a specific theme like Global Citizenship, Sustainability or Creativity and Community, Block U students participate in a core learning community, community based learning, a set of General Education courses organized around a central theme, and have the support of peer mentors and student success advocates. Students receive a textbook scholarship and designation on the transcript upon the completion of two semesters of Block U. Students engage in research during the second semester of the core learning community in a problem-based learning research project. The aim of the Block U Program is to provide the best support for student success, an integrated course through General Education and the application of new knowledge in real-world learning applications.
The Integrated Minor
The Integrated Minor is a thematic, intentional course through General Education that extends over the course of four year rather than two semesters. The minor bundles General Education courses organized around different themes and offers internships and practical experience that provide a head start for students pursuing careers after graduation. The Integrated Minor culminates in a General Education capstone experience that asks students to engage in critical and integrated thinking to make their education more relevant at the personal and community levels.
Learning portfolios provide a place for students to collate their academic experiences, projects, and best work to discover connections between what they’ve learned at the U and how their newfound knowledge relates to their career aspirations and society in general. These ePortfolios can be used to link together, enhance, and deepen high-impact practices such as a signature experience with MUSE, while providing tangible evidence of achievement and learning outcomes. They are also helpful in producing active student learning and improving and innovating ways of teaching.
MUSE — My U Signature Experience
The MUSE project provides opportunities for students to have a signature learning experience: those moments that define and empower a student’s intellectual growth, development, and path in life. Launched as a Presidential initiative in 2010, MUSE activities are grounded in the university’s educational missions to enhance and add to the U’s already great academic programs and endeavors. With the goal of connecting students with community leaders, mentors, and our outstanding faculty, students have the opportunity to explore areas that inspire them, discover new ideas and fields of thought, and define their own successful path toward graduation and life after college.
In addition to the many initiatives implemented to make the U student experience ever better, we’re also improving and refining some of our most successful programs that have helped students prepare to become leaders and well-rounded graduates.
|Honors College promotes a rich academic environment for talented and highly motivated students. The Engaged Learning Initiative gives Honors students the chance to participate in Honors Think Tanks, Honors Scholars groups and internships.|
|LEAP – (Learning, Engagement, Achievement, Progress) is a first year learning community that puts students in a two-semester sequence of courses that are capped at 30 students, taught by inspiring teachers and that set them up for academic success.|
|UROP – (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program) provides undergraduate students and faculty members the opportunity to work together on research and creative projects.|
|Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence supports the U’s teaching community through services such as workshops, consultations, and development to continue to improve their skills and the courses offered.|
|Continuing Education provides classes and courses for both U students and the community at large to continue learning and experiencing the benefits of discovery and knowledge throughout life.|
|Center for Learning Abroad promotes immersion in other cultures and regions of the world to bring new perspectives to each student’s educational experience.|
|International Center serves as the primary campus contact for international students, scholars, and alumni while at the U.|
|Office of Engagement connects community and University knowledge and experience to make better student outcomes through collaboration, participation, and imaginative programming and dialogue.|
|University College helps students decide on their major, understand course requirements, and provides advisors to help navigate policies and plan for graduation.|
Even the best ideas always start from the smallest of sparks. We’ve asked students, instructors, parents, and staff for their suggestions on how to make the undergraduate experience at the U even better and we’d love to hear from you. Visit spark.utah.edu to submit your ideas and vote on others to help us continue improving the U experience.
Majors, Minors, and Certificate Programs
Start your exploration of all the courses and majors offered at the U and find the perfect fit for the direction you want to go with your education.