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Parents & Families

Parents and familiy members are vital partners in the success of University of Utah students! Block U strives to support parents and family members of undergraduate students by providing programming that connects families with the University and recognizing families as University partners in assisting students with their academic endeavors.

About Academic Learning Communities

A learning community is a small cohort - or group- of students and faculty in a class together for two consecutive semesters. First-Year Academic Learning Communities are design to help students efficiently fulfill general education reqiurements towards undergraduate degree at the University of Utah.

 

Reasons to encourage your student to join a learning community and why students say they are the best experience:

  • Maximize your time by earning more General Education credits with few classes
  • The small cohort feeling means classes are capped at 20 - 25 students
  • Create a community by getting to know your professors and peers over two semesters. There are often out-of-class activities, learning and service opportunities
  • Wrap-around support with each class/block having a embedded peer advisor, part of the class includes research training with a librarian, and access to a the university's Student Success Advocates
  • Improved academic outcomes including higher GPAs, students are more likely to stay in school, and get on track for a 4-year graduation schedule

Why Block U?

Block U provides the best of both worlds by combining the personal attention of a small college environment with the unparalleled resources of a large research university. First-year students get the opportunity to participate in a learning community with students from a diverse set of social backgrounds representing a wide range of high schools across Utah, the United States, and throughout the world drawn together by shared goals and common intellectual interests. 

With a wide range of learning communities, students choose the one that best fits their personal interests and professional goals. All learning communities are tailored to create a supportive and caring learning environment. 

In addition to special course offerings, there are always activities going on within the learning communities and across the program, including field trips, guest speakers, community service projects, recreational athletics, research projects, and so much more. The small size, friendly environment, campus partnerships and special activities of Block U help ease the transition to college and lay the foundation towards a fulfilled future.

 

With Block U, your student will:

  • Complete all of their General Education Intellectual Exploration requirements in one year
  • Develop the skills and knowledge to plan and take 15 credit hours or more each semester
  • Develop connections with Block U students, faculty, peer advisors, and campus resources
  • Receive official stamp on their transcript and a Block U certificate
  • Conduct and produce relevant community-engaging projects

Programs

For two semesters, a small group of students, peer advisor and faculty participate in a class built around a theme. In addition to the learning community class, students register for a schedule (block) of thematically organized classes that together with the learning community class, meet all the required Intellectual Exploration components of general education. In Block U classes, students develop skills that are important for all careers, such as problem solving, written and oral communication skills, and teamwork.

Da Vinci: Discovery Across Disciplines is about exploring how science interacts with and influences society. In this learning community students are asked to think about their roleas contributorand consumerof science. Like the great man himself, students will be encouraged to ask questions with your unquenchable curiosity and feverishly inventive imagination. Students engage in their own open-ended discovery activities and experiments, and design their own research projects for the spring symposium. Da Vinci: Discovery Across Disciplines is led by faculty in the College of Science.

LEARNING COMMUNITY HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:
  • Engage in your own open-ended discovery activities and experiments
  • Design your own research project
  • The classes associated with this learning community will provide you the opportunity to learn and explore the sciences, psychology, sociology, political science, and education pathways. 

View Class Schedule & More Information

Families & Health is about exploring not just the genetic material we inherit from our families but also the shared culture, environment, and lifestyles that influence our health and wellness. In this learning community you will investigate how families can promote health and well-being, how they help manage chronic illnesses, and how these family-based strategies vary across developmental life stages.
 
LEARNING COMMUNITY HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:
  • Students create and participate in community-based projects focused on nutrition, movement, and literacy.
  • Led by faculty in the College of Social and Behavioral Science. 
  • The classes associated with this learning community will provide you the opportunity to learn and explore psychology, human development & family studies, health promotion and biology pathways. 

View Class Schedule & More Information

Food, Culture, & Ecology is about how humans love to eat. We love to share food, watch others prepare it, and many of us even like trying out new cuisines. But food is  for more than mere pleasure or sustenance--it is political, cultural and even rhetorical. It is inextricably tied to the family, to tradition and the hearth.  It involves environmental issues and economic ones--and it is at the root of many of our social justice concerns. In this learning community students will explore a number of these issues (and a few more) from a variety of perspectives and in a handful of disciplines to try and answer the question, what does the food we eat say about us? Food, Culture, & Ecology is led by faculty in the College of Humanities.

LEARNING COMMUNITY HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:
  • Engage in your own open-ended discovery activities and experiments
  • Design your own research project
  • The classes associated with this learning community will provide you the opportunity to learn and explore the biology, geography, sociology, environmental studies, political science and writing pathways.

View Class Schedule & More Information

Global Citizenship is about thinking more gloabally as you start to think locally in a different way. The world is a smaller and smaller place everyday. Globalization affects each of our lives everyday. From healthcare to the environment to poverty and popular culture, participation in the world is a global act. Global Citizenship is led by faculty in the College of Humanities.

LEARNING COMMUNITY HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:
  • Participate with others in a virtual self-exploration and study of tough issues facing our planet and its inhabitants
  • Explore and understand the footprint of your citizenship along with its rights and responsibilities, locally and globally
  • Satisfy your interest in having and managing global impact
  • Engage in and learn some of the most cutting-edge online community-building programs
  • The classes associated with this learning community will provide you the opportunity to learn and explore the writing, math, linguistics, economics, chemistry, and the art pathways.

View Class Schedule & More Information

Medical Humanities is about investigating and challenging what is normal in an ever-changing society. In this learning community, students critically engage with a variety of medical cases which challenge the difference between abnormal and normal. Students learn about medicine as a humane discipline and examine how medicine can (or should) intervene. Students, explore societal health issues, such as race and the human experience of illness, and the experience of disability. Medical Humanities is led by faculty from the College of Humanities.
LEARNING COMMUNITY HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:
  • Teams of students design their own research projects for the spring symposium
  • Led by faculty from the College of Humanities.
  • The classes associated with this learning community will provide you the opportunity to learn and explore pre-medicine, biology, psychology, philosophy, kinesiology, and nursing.

View Class Schedule & More Information

Work, Wellness and the Great Outdoors is about exploring the interconnectedness of work, wellness and the great outdoors. Students develop strategies for maintaining physical and mental wellness throughout life. They examine the role of wilderness in society and learn about the history of national parks, and their role in health. Students critically examine recreation businesses that prioritize employee wellness, outdoor recreation, and leisure time to save costs and improve the bottom line. Students in this course participate in community projects focused on health, nutrition and recreation. In this class, students experience multiple off-campus field trips. Work, Wellness and the Great Outdoors is led by faculty in the College of Health.

LEARNING COMMUNITY HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:
  • Develop an academic plan that balances career goals, personal wellness, and playing in the great outdoors of Utah
  • Team up with U-Explore and campus partners to be introduced to on-campus activities
  • Participate in a community-based project focused on health, nutrition, recreation and wellness
  • Experience multiple off-campus field trips
  • The classes associated with this learning community will provide you the opportunity to learn and explore parks, recreation & tourism, kinesiology, environmental sustainability, nutrition, business, and psychology.

View Class Schedule & More Information

GetTing Started & Frequently Asked Questions

First, you must complete your New Student Orientation. Once you have completed your Virtual Orientation modules, please move on to the Academic Advising section below for information regarding your academic advising appointment.

If you have questions about getting registered for an orientation, how to complete the orientation modules, please contact the Office of Orientation and Tranistion.

Office of Orientation & Transition

Webiste orientation.utah.edu
Phone 801-581-7069
Email orientation@utah.edu
Address
280 A. Ray Olpin Student Union Building (UNION)
200 South Campus Dr.
Salt Lake City, UT 84112

Once you complete your New Student Orientation modules, you will meet with an academic advisor for first semester course planning. To find your steps to speak with an advisor, review the "Connect with your Academic College" module in your Canvas course. This module will include instructions specific to your academic college/major.

Prepare for your advising appointment by setting up your FERPA pin, familiarize yourself with Graduation Requirements, make a list of topics you are interested in and classes you would like to take, prepare any questions to ask. Don't forget to mention you want to join Block U while meeting with your academic advisor and share with them the Block U learning community worksheet!

If you are having trouble finding your college specific orientation information, visit https://orientation.utah.edu/orientation/orientation_academic_colleges.php

If you are having difficulty connecting with your Academic College, please contact the Office of Orientation & Transition.

Office of Orientation & Transition

Webiste orientation.utah.edu
Phone 801-581-7069
Email orientation@utah.edu
Address
280 A. Ray Olpin Student Union Building (UNION)
200 South Campus Dr.
Salt Lake City, UT 84112

 

Quick Advising Question? 

Website advising.utah.edu
Phone 801-581-8146
Email AACReception@utah.edu

During your academic advising appointment, your advisor will help you register for courses and show you how to modify them. Don't forget to mention you want to join Block U while meeting with your academic advisor and share with them the Block U learning community worksheet!

 

Below are the answers to questions we receive pretty often but if you have a question that is not listed, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page or fill out our Contact Us form and a Block U Ambassador will reach out within 24 hours.

There is not a typical Block U student in terms of GPA or personality, and there are no special requirements to join Block U. The program seems to be best for students who benefit from having at least one class that is small , where they can develop a sense of community. Block U classes spend time exploring campus resources and developing skills for a successful university career, which benefits all types of students. One goal of Block U is to assure that each student has a major by the end of their first year. Finally, Block U is a great way to get to work with a faculty member that is enthusiastic and enjoys first year students. 

Students who begin their college experience in a learning community tend to have higher first year GPA’s, report higher satisfaction with their first year of college, and express a stronger sense of belonging with the University. Block U students are more likely to choose a major in their first year, and graduate in four years when compared to their peers. Block U is successful because of the high level of engagement students have with faculty, student success advocates, and librarians.

The core Block U classes are themed courses associated with a university college or program.  For example, DaVinci is a Block U course focused on science, that is associated with the College of Science; Work, Wellness and the Great Outdoors is associated with the College of Health. The core classes are paired with the student’s choice of Intellectual Explorations courses in specific domains to provide a well-rounded set of general education courses that meet the student’s interests and allow them to explore many career paths.

The majority of General Education graduation requirements at the U is called Intellectual Explorations. Students are required to take classes in the Fine Arts, Social and Behavioral Science, Applied or Physical Science, and Humanities to complete the Intellectual Explorations requirements.  Students that successfully complete the Block U program, finish all of their Intellectual Exploration requirements in their first year. This sets them up for diving into their major as a sophomore, and finishing in four years.

Block U classes allow students to study broad topics associated with many of the majors available on campus. One of the goals of Block U is to help each student declare a major by the end of the first year, and Block U has an academic advisor who provides information to each class about choosing a major and choosing a career. If a student is  already firmly committed to a major, the LEAP learning community is a better option.

There are no additional costs associated with Block U. Students complete 6 general education classes and receive credit for 8 classes, so there can be  a financial benefit to participating in Block U. There also can be financial benefits to completing a degree in four years, which is more common among Block U participants. Finally, Block U students can apply for scholarships at the end of the spring semester to be applied during their sophmore year. A $1,000 scholarship is given to a student in each core class. 
Last Updated: 4/9/21