More students are opting for living-learning communities each year across Canada. Living-learning communities (LLC) group like-minded students in the same program, together in the same residence.
Each LLC is assigned a ‘Peer Leader’. Peer Leaders are upper years, in the same program as the students who host events 1-2 times a week to help with any academic and personal needs.
They are also there to support students through their transition. These programs help build a strong sense of community, which eases the move from secondary school to university.
The University of Waterloo has LLC’s at the majority of on-campus residences. This includes Ron Eydt Village, Village 1, University of Waterloo Place, Claudette Millar Hall and the University Colleges St. Paul’s, Conrad Grebel, and Renison.
When students apply for residence, they have the option to live in an LLC at no additional cost. They are then placed in the same residence as 10-15 other students in the same program. Students at UW have found this to be very helpful, as they are surrounded by peers dealing with similar experiences, such as finding textbooks for courses and finding peers to sit next to in class. Students enjoy the fact that there is always a group of students to walk with to classes and study with living next door. Students from other programs are also in residences with LLC students, allowing for a good integration of various academic backgrounds and personalities.
Events hosted by Peer Leaders keep students engaged; these activities can vary from a midterm pizza party to having dinner with professors within the faculty of the LLC. Students receive one-on-one support from their Peer Leaders and support from their community. Students are also able to connect with various resources on campus. For example, the Applied Health Science LLC, this year in Ron Eydt Village, will have joint events with the Applied Health Science Undergraduate Members (AHSUM) to explore more resources available to them on campus and ways to get more involved within their faculty. St. Paul’s also organizes a Women in Engineering LLC which partners with the Faculty of Engineering to build relationships with upper year students and network with alumni.
LLC’s have become more prominent throughout Canadian universities and have noticed a significant impact on their student population. Just five minutes away, Wilfrid Laurier University has LLC’s that also host weekly study sessions, monthly activities, and even an end-of-year field trip. The students at WLU’s History LLC went on a ten-day field trip to Puerto Rico to learn the history of piracy in the Atlantic World. They were able to see first hand the concepts they were studying together in class. The University of Alberta noticed that students in LLC have higher satisfaction with the student staff and programming each year. “It helped us become friends quicker which made us feel like we belonged. ” a student in an LLC at the University of Regina said. St. Francis Xavier University expanded their LLC’s and created Lifestyle Communities. These communities are based on students lifestyles, such as substance-free, all women, and quieter-lifestyle communities.
Universities across Canada are able to create these welcoming and successful programs by doing extensive research. First, universities must figure out which demographic amongst the university needs more access to various research on campus, and find which programs have the largest groups that would benefit from these communities.
From there, the LLC coordinators partner with faculties, as the faculties know their students the best. When the students, residence staff, and faculties come together, it creates a successful and close-knit community, which creates an incredible first-year experience.