First-Year Learning Communities


First-Year Experience Communities at UNCW

First-Year Learning Communities are for YOU! No matter what your interest, there is a place for you. Learning Communities are structured learning experiences in which a group of 20-25 first-semester students share common classes and activities related to an academic or personal interest. There are learning communities in which all students live in the same residence hall and others that do not have a specific housing requirement. All classes included in learning communities fulfill requirements for University Studies (the undergraduate, core curriculum required for all UNCW graduates). Also, an upperclassman, in the role of peer mentor, is assigned to each learning community. Your peer mentor can answer questions, offer guidance and will plan a range of community activities.

Students, you can learn more and apply to our First-Year Learning Communities through the First-Year Learning Community application. The Honors College will require a separate application.

For additional information or if you have any questions about this community, please email

Much research has been done world-wide on the effectiveness of these types of communities for college students. Here are just some of the benefits seen by the participating students:

  • Students create their own supportive peer networks that extend beyond the classroom
  • Students become more involved in both in-class and out-of-class activities
  • Students spend more time and effort on academic and other educationally-related activities
  • Students tend to earn higher grades
  • Students report feeling more connected to their community professors, staff, mentors and the UNCW campus
  • Students report an increased overall satisfaction with their college experience

Honors College

Members of the UNCW Honors College are part of an intellectually and socially diverse group of engaged students, involved in every major and in all areas of university life. The Honors College provides opportunities for undergraduates to enrich their academic curriculum in any major, to develop a global perspective, to engage in faculty-led undergraduate research and creative scholarly activity, and to receive mentoring for national scholarship and fellowship applications. First year Honors College students reside in Honors Housing in the Tri-House area and live in a vibrant learning community. There is a separate application to the Honors College. Students cannot join both the Honors College and a separate First-Year Learning Community.


Seahawk RISE Living and Learning Community

RISE, which stands for Reaching and Inspiring Student Excellence, was created in 2018 for UNCW students from rural counties in North Carolina. Participants take two courses together in the fall semester and one in the spring while living in community with co-participants in Graham Residence Hall. Students selected for the program also move onto campus three days before the general student body and take part in a variety of activities designed to build community, familiarize students with campus resources, and introduce them to the Wilmington area. RISE participants who successfully complete the first year at the university are eligible for a $500 retention scholarship. The program is open to students from rural counties in North Carolina who are interested in being part of an active and engaged community. Individuals who are first-generation college students are especially encouraged to apply. For more information, including a link to the application, visit