One of the things that I was worried about the most coming into freshman year was finding a group of friends. I knew that there would be a plethora of students for me to get to know, but familiarity and smaller group settings help me thrive – I wanted to be exposed to a select group of freshmen and get to know them, rather than having to face everyone at once. The idea of being thrown into residence halls with hundreds of other students was daunting, but I was lucky to have an alternative that I knew would help me in my transition to college life: Engaged Living.
Engaged Living (EL) at Furman is basically a living and learning community; you live with the same people who you take classes with. My freshman year, the EL students lived in Townes (a segment of Lakeside) and took up all four floors! It was really convenient having my classmates down the hall or just a couple staircases away if I had a question about class. Also, being so close to one another really allowed us to bond both inside and outside of the classroom. One of my closest friends at Furman now is a girl who was in my EL class, and my two other closest friends were also a part of the EL community.
The EL program that I was a part of focused on self-exploration and was composed of two classes. The first semester, I took a religion class called Genesis, which looked at creationism and The Bible and the second semester I took my first-year writing seminar (also known as an FYW), which was titled Finding Your Life Purpose. I absolutely loved both of these classes and enjoyed having the same classmates for both semesters. Being in a class with the same group of individuals all year really allowed me to thrive academically and also encouraged me to embrace my EL class’ theme of self-exploration; I find it’s easier to look into yourself when you’re comfortable where you are.
Something special about EL classes is that they receive a budget from Furman to take trips and do activities together. My class went on a weekend retreat in the fall with the Cothran Center for Vocational Reflection, did a couple of group dinners, and took a trip to see a replica of Noah’s Ark in the spring (which, unfortunately, I was unable to make it to). These trips really enhanced the class and gave me a unique freshman year experience.
Some of the other EL classes center around sustainability, politics, and healthcare. More information about the classes can be found here: https://www.furman.edu/engaged-living/first-year-experience/learning-communities/. If this is something that sounds remotely interesting to you, I would recommend applying! I can’t imagine what my Furman experience would have been like if I didn’t have such a great start with EL.
I hope you enjoyed hearing about this special learning community! If you have any questions, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Until next time!