Stephanie George, College Inside Track Consultant
Hello, Stephanie! Our topic today is Living Learning Communities (LLCs). I know that you’re a proponent of them. What exactly is an LLC, and what colleges have them?
A living learning community is a smaller community in a college or university; students in an LLC have common interests and experiences together. The students live together, take one or two classes together, have the same advisors, might engage in service projects and attend events together both inside and outside of school. So there are social, civic, and intellectual bonds that develop among the kids living in the community. The common interest that drives the LLC, helps students feel comfortable being social and certainly can help them open up to the group.
Does a student have to “apply” to an LLC? Explain a little bit about the process.
Each school is different, but students have to indicate if they want an LLC when they apply for housing. Some LLC’s can be more popular than others so it is a good idea to make that decision when you fill out your housing paperwork. Some programs might have an application while others might just ask you to indicate if you want this. Sometimes, colleges will ask students to indicate interest in a particular LLC on the Common App.
I suggest that whenever possible, first year students should live in a specific community. Students who have a history of socio-emotional difficulties can strongly benefit from these environments. LLCs provide community, and eyes on students and their progress. I believe that really any student can benefit from a good LLC.
Kids who are happy and relatively well adjusted in high school can still face their first true experience of loneliness and isolation at college in the first year, and many had their friend groups so established in high school that the sudden prospect of having to completely establish themselves in new soil without support can be daunting. Making new friends can be difficult, even for a seemingly social teen!
How does an LLC affect the transition to college? Is it something students should think of as a strictly first year of college experience?
LLC’s are available for different years. Many times after the first year the students in the LLC tend to live together still, but in a different setting. The reason it is most popular for first year students is because they are a great way for students to form bonds with other students right away. They are brought together and will continuously see each other throughout the week in the residence hall and in their class together. It can help students feel less lonely and more comfortable.
One study after another is reporting a strong uptick in college student anxiety and depression, among other wellness issues. It seems as though now, more than ever, the time is right for LLCs?
This is an especially great time for families to look into LLC’s. We know from mental health professionals that a feeling of belonging and supportive communities can help student mental health. A LLC can create this feeling and can also help to keep the students busy and on track with school work. The social component to the LLC’ is of immeasurable value in this sense.
Here are some examples of some great Living Learning Communities Stephanie loves. Look around to get a sense of the possibilities. Thank you Stephanie!
General research reference: Living-Learning Communities and Independent Higher Education
Living-Learning Communities and Independent Higher Education CIC Project on the Future of Independent Higher Education
“The living-learning communities described in this research brief, however, are a relatively new phenomenon. These communities combine curricular, co-curricular, and residential components in a purposeful way to encourage collaboration among students, faculty members, and staff and thus enhance students’ academic and social development.”
Elon University LLCs
University of Denver LLCs
University of Arizona Honors Village
University of Wisconsin Madison
Miami of Ohio