So you’re starting your college search and keep running into this buzzword: Living-Learning Communities (LLCs). You may be wondering what they are, whether or not you should join, and how to apply if you’re interested. Special programs like this can be beneficial for a lot of students in adapting to college life. Keep reading to have some light shed on this topic of growing significance!
What are Living-Learning Communities?
Living-Learning Communities are built upon the idea of grouping college students within similar studies or with shared passions into a residential living community on campus. These arrangements often provide students with increased access to specialized opportunities, resources, and programs as well as more contact with faculty in the related area. Students in the same LLC share experiences both inside and outside the classroom as they live, work, and study together. According to the University of Central Florida’s website, the idea behind LLCs is to allow “first-year students to connect to a smaller community and engage in unique experiences.” Essentially, LLCs are a residential arrangement designed to break down a large college or university to a more manageable setting so first-year students can spend more time with a group of people who share a common interest.
What options do I have?
There are seemingly endless possibilities when it comes to the types of LLCs you can join. Each college or university will have different options, and some won’t offer LLCs at all. However, the colleges that do usually offer a wide variety. Texas A&M University has four different main types: Academic Residential Experience Districts, Academic LLCs, Enhanced LLCs, and Themed or Interest LLCs. Each category has slightly different requirements and obligations associated with it to give you many tailor-fit options. Some differences you may see between various LLCs might depend on whether the LLC is based on a common field of study (e.g., Engineering) or simply a similar passion such as environmental sustainability. Another detail that varies is whether or not there are classes you’re required to take with your LLC cohort. However, all LLCs should share the same basic principles: a common focus uniting the LLC, dedicated collaborating faculty and staff, and an active residential life. If you’re considering living in an LLC, it’s worth checking the website of each of your colleges of interest for more detailed information.
What does being in an LLC actually look like?
Being part of an Living-Learning Community is more than just living in a specific dorm. For more academically focused programs, it may mean you’re granted more access to peer tutoring, upper-level students, and events related to your field of study. There may also be additional classes you must take with your LLC cohort to learn more about the central topic of your LLC. In a themed LLC, you may be required to commit a certain number of hours per week to volunteering or participating in something related to your common theme. Many LLCs also involve field trips and guest speakers to fully immerse you into the theme. They could also include campus-wide events and special study abroad and research opportunities that are closely connected with the faculty associated with your LLC.
What are some pros and cons of participating in an LLC?
LLCs provide you with a small group of people you share a key interest with, breaking down the intimidating arena of new faces in college life. In the vast environment of college—which is likely a dramatic change from your high school—it can be helpful to have a core group with whom you share a lot of your initial college experiences. LLCs can also be incredibly helpful if you’re passionate about one of the themes offered or want to meet a lot of other people in your field of interest. If you’re confident in what you want to study, an LLC may be perfect for you because you’ll be able to get increased opportunities in an area you’re passionate about. There are also several studies that show positive correlation between participation in an LLC and an easier transition to college. Living with the same people you study and have a lot in common with will help you to develop relationships faster and build a “family” away from home.
On the other hand, there are disadvantages you should keep in mind as well. You may not meet as many people outside of your chosen cohort. You may have to make an extra effort to meet people with other passions, which is a key part of the college experience. Additionally, if you’re not sure what you want to study, choosing an overly specific LLC may restrict your exploration of different areas of study.
How do I apply?
While each college varies in its exact application process, most schools require you to submit an application for the LLC you’re interested in on top of your application for general admission to the school itself. In most cases, your LLC application is tied to your housing application since most LLCs determine where you live on campus, meaning you must be accepted to a school before pursuing entry into an LLC. For more detailed information, consult the specific college’s website or speak with your admission advisor.
Living-Learning Communities can be beneficial for many students; they can help ease the transition to college life, introduce you to amazing people, and offer many valuable experiences. But they’re certainly not for everyone, and as with everything in the college search, it’s important to do your research before you apply. If you decide an LLC is a good fit for you, you’re in for an amazing adventure. Best of luck!
Want to know more about what to expect when you get to college? Check out the advice in our Student Life section.