A community to call home
Expanded programs open living-learning communities to all first-year students
In its 2010 strategic plan, the University of Iowa set an ambitious goal—expand residence-hall-based living-learning communities to the point where every first-year student could participate.
This fall, the university will meet that goal. All incoming students who live on campus will join a living-learning community (LLC) of their choice.
“We’ve seen what a difference living-learning communities can make for students,” says Beth Ingram, associate provost for undergraduate education. “Expanding these programs makes those benefits available to virtually all our new students.”
LLCs are residential communities that connect students with common goals or interests. Many universities have embraced the concept, but the UI is among the first to make it a standard part of the first-year experience.
Some LLCs have a connection to a specific major—engineering, for example, or business. Others focus on topics like photography, music, or leadership. All set out to provide a sense of community and a close network of peers that make a big university feel smaller.
Students registering for on-campus housing this fall will choose their top five learning communities from more than 30 different options. In the spring, students can select a room in one of their preferred communities from a residence hall floor plan—sort of like picking an airplane seat.
“We knew students at Iowa were more successful when they participated in LLCs, so we decided that every first-year student should benefit from them,” says Von Stange, assistant vice president for student life and senior director of University Housing & Dining.
The emphasis on LLCs also has guided plans for the university’s next residence hall. The West Campus Residence Hall, slated for completion in 2015, is designed especially for LLCs, with pods of rooms clustered near tutoring, study, and communal space.
Growing LLCs is part of the university’s renewed emphasis to student-success programs. Other success-oriented initiatives include the On Iowa! program for first-year students, expanded retention efforts, and a commitment to scholarship support.
“Together, these programs help us ensure that more students feel at home at the university and ultimately go on to achieve their educational and career goals,” Ingram says.