What Are Living-Learning Communities And Are They For You?

Well, the stressful part of college applications is done and in the past. You have been accepted to the college of your dreams (perhaps not, but it’s nice to think positively), and you are ready to begin your life anew at the university. This just leaves one matter of unfinished business.

Where are you going to live?

For some incoming freshmen, this is a simple task of checking the “random” box and getting on with your senior year or summer. On the other hand, some students are more particular about where they will be spending the first year of their new life as a freshman. Perhaps you want to be close to where all the action happens, such as the quad or Greek life (if you plan to rush). You may be an art lover who simply wants to discuss your latest work with the rest of your floor and have them not ogle you as if you have sprouted a second head.

Case in point, there is a place for everyone on campus, be it housing with the official university buildings, living on your own in an apartment or private housing. University housing, on my campus as well as several others, offers an interesting option of: living-learning communities.

I know what you’re thinking.

What is a living-learning community?

A living-learning community is a specialized residence hall that caters specifically to certain needs or interests of the students living in them. They are usually much smaller than the average dorm and offer a more community-like feel. For instance, Allen Residence Hall (my home) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers classes and music lessons in the basement of the building. Allen also offers several weekly programs, and monthly guest speakers, in order to get residents out of their rooms to socialize and learn about different interests and cultures.

Why should I consider living in an LLC?

  • LLC Orientation: Most living-learning communities offer early move-in for new residents and freshmen students. Not only does this give a chance to meet your fellow residents, but you get to move in early to campus and get acclimated before anyone else. This allows the shock of moving in to pass way before classes start, and I guarantee you will have a solid core group of people as your support system.
  • Classes: In my LLC Allen Hall (also known as Unit One), they offer a multitude of classes in the basement of the building; so going to class is as easy as getting up a few minutes before and simply walking downstairs. These classes are often smaller than most found around the university, so the professor has more room to focus on individual students. Living in an LLC also gives you priority over other students to sign up for the classes offered in them. You will get a richer learning experience, more class choices and sleep. How can you beat that?
  • Extracurricular Activities: Another innovative feature about living-learning communities is the amount of activities they have running every single day. These activities can range from outings to the local farmer’s market to taking a bus to another town for a music festival. LLCs also offer their own clubs, such as singing groups, book clubs and even ultimate Frisbee teams. Administrators in the residence halls even promote residents starting their own clubs and events. With the right drive, anyone can put on a program in Allen. Personally, I know a girl who whips up a mean flash mob when given the time.
  • Friends For Life: Getting past all the academic and activity-driven factors, LLCs truly help bring people together and form bonds that will last past college graduation. Thanks to urgings from resident advisors and the like, I made several good friends during my stay in Allen Hall (sophomore year and still going strong). The staff and other residents make sure you are suited with the resources you need to make the best of your college career. With friends like the ones I have made, I think they succeeded.

Are living-learning communities for you?

I will be honest here; living-learning communities are not made for everyone. Some students would rather kick off the year in solitude trying to adjust in their own way, while I enjoyed wandering the halls and being sucked in the gravitational pull of room simply because they were playing Super Smash Bros. and I wanted to make new friends. Everyone interacts and adjusts in their own way. Either way, I wholeheartedly encourage anyone entering their first year of college to look into specialized housing opportunities on campus. Whether you find them weird, cool or all of the above: it is always fun to try something new.

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Tori Stukins

Tori Stukins

Tori Stukins is a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pursuing a degree in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Theatre. On campus, Tori can often be found working on various projects for Her Campus Illinois, acting in a production or reading. While at home, she enjoys working at her family’s restaurant or exploring with her friends.