Walking onto a college campus only a few months after graduating from high school, the idea of taking what you learned in class and applying it to your personal life can seem to be far-fetched, thus the creation of the living-learning communities.
Living-learning communities bring together residence-hall living with academics to ensure students get a well-rounded educational experience. In the United States, there are more than 400 colleges and universities that have living learning communities and Florida A&M University is one of them.
Spearheaded by Brenda Spencer, director for academic integration and student transitional services, FAMU’s living-learning community (LLC) is, “a program that involves undergraduate students who live together in a discrete portion of a residence hall and participate in academic and/or extra-curricular programming designed specifically for them.”
In fall 2015, FAMU opened its doors and welcomed the first class of freshmen students to have the opportunity of living in a community and taking two or more classes filled with people of the same major as a part of FAMU’s strategic plan.
Spencer considers the LLC program as a “collaborative effort between the university’s division of academic affairs and division of student affairs.”
The LLC’s goal is to introduce a sturdy bond between the students’ learning experiences and their experience in the residence hall to assist with the university’s retention, progression and graduation rates, Spencer said.
Located in FAMU Village on specified floors of the West and East side, sits six LLC’s: honors LLC, engineering LLC, School of Allied Health Sciences LLC, School of Business and Industry LLC, School of Journalism and Graphic Communication LLC and the College of Science and Technology (CST) LLC.
Students are assigned to rooms where they are housed with a roommate of their same major.
According to Spencer, university housing has not hesitated to accommodate the LLC’s for the sake of the students.
“LLC participants are housed in FAMU Village which supports these ideals through academic partnerships, service-learning opportunities and in-hall education,” Spencer said.
In the development of the LLC specific schools and colleges choose a Liaison. The liaison is typically a staff member in the school or college, who coordinates with the Resident Director and the LLC Resident Assistant (RA) to plan events that better suits the needs of the residence in regards to their major.
Each resident assistant that is chosen to become an LLC RA, is chosen based on their application, GPA and major.
Some students who have participated in the LLC’s are given the opportunity to advance, becoming LLC RA’s.
Darryl Whitehurst, a second year pre-medicine and pharmacy student, had the pleasure of becoming an RA for the same LLC he once lived in. Whitehurst claims it is easier being an RA for the Stem LLC considering he was a resident in the LLC last year.
“It is actually fun because I get to tutor people that are taking the same classes I have already taken,” Whitehurst said.
Whitehurst feels that being in the LLC prepared him for college.
“While in the LLC, I had a mentor and group of friends that had all the same goals as me. Through having this, I was able to know the tricks of how to be successful at FAMU.”
Beginning at the launch of FAMU’s LLC program, the cumulative GPA for LLC freshmen was a 2.95 compared to a 2.64 for non-LLC freshmen.
First year Broadcast Journalism student Sierra Sirju, her first year in the Journalism LLC has been a dream come true.
“It has put me ahead in learning my profession because I am doing hands-on activities that teaches me about the camera, writing and how to meet deadlines!” Exclaimed Sirju. “My homework is always done now because the other residents are my classmates and [I] study with them, making my college experience so much easier.”
According to Spencer, the progression of FAMU’s LLC’s won’t stop here and first-year undergraduate students will continue to reap the benefits of this program.
“LLC students are provided with specifically designed holistic and diverse programming in which they may not have otherwise received as a freshman student including: Interactions with deans and faculty, mentors, group activities/projects, shared classes, study groups, service learning, career/experiential learning, leadership development, global education, field trips, and cultural and social events,” she said.