Living-Learning Communities: Going Beyond Dormitory Curb Appeal

When searching for the perfect dorm, many students just think about the physical aspects like looks or location. While these aspects should be taken into consideration, it is also important to look beyond the surface and focus on a residence’s internal network.

Many college campuses offer the option of a “Living-Learning Community” (LLC), or a segment of housing that targets specific students as its residents. If your university offers this living option, it’s advantageous to research these different communities before deciding on a building based on looks or location.

LLCs group together students with similar interests and can be a great way to get involved at school from the moment you set foot on campus.  Some LLCs are composed of students in a particular major (math and science students), of a specific demographic (women in engineering) or focused on a similar passion or value (sustainability or concern for the environment). Some LLCs are geared toward community involvement, others to academic goals or passions.

The summer before freshman year is a great time to research the various LLCs your college may offer. Some LLCs require an application and may have an additional cost, so the earlier you begin researching the logistics, the better. After browsing around my university’s housing website, I found and applied to an LLC that I felt I connected to the most. The LLC was called LEADS, standing for “Leadership Education through Academic Development and Service.”

Throughout the year, my LLC participated in volunteer programs and special events (we had a Relay for Life team and were offered various opportunities to participate in Leadership workshops and seminars on and off campus). Special Leadership Studies classes were offered only to LLC students, and we were able to move on to the LEADS floor two days before move-in day to get to know each other better.

As a member of LEADS, I was immediately forced into meeting the people around me and was given the privilege of being a part of a small community from the get-go. My other friends in non-LLC dorms would often complain that they didn’t know anyone on their floor, or that it was hard to find common ground with the people they were surrounded by in their new “home.” I was lucky enough not to have any of those problems, thanks to LEADS.

Living as a resident in an LLC is a great first step to becoming an active member of your campus community. While a picturesque building or a prime location has its perks, a dormitory is about more than just the physical aspects of a building. Part of the freshman dorm experience revolves around the people you surround yourself with and the opportunities you take advantage of.

With an LLC, you are able to bond with people who are similar to you and have experiences that cater to your interests. A large campus can start to feel a lot smaller, and a group of strangers can start to feel like a family.

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Emma Weissmann

Emma Weissmann

Emma Weissmann is a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pursuing a degree in News-Editorial Journalism with an interdisciplinary minor in Leadership Studies. Emma enjoys traveling, trying new foods, and snuggling up on the couch with her cat, “Louie.” She also spends her time volunteering and hanging out with family and friends.
Emma Weissmann

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