By Tierney Gallagher
Clemson University’s Living-Learning Community (LLC) is a unique residential program for first-year students in the College of Health, Education and Human Development. The program houses a select group of freshmen who exhibit the potential to be outstanding leaders and scholars within HEHD majors.
What is the HEHD LLC?
The HEHD LLC aims to develop leaders by engaging students in living, learning, serving and playing together. The community offers a one-of-a-kind living experience that focuses on learning both in and outside of the classroom. As a comprehensive program, the LLC helps residents reach deeper levels of learning by providing a wide range of resources to help challenge and support them.
Kristin Goodenow, director of the HEHD Academic Advising Center, says the LLC’s small size offers residents an experience incomparable to other places on campus. “As freshmen, students can live anywhere and have a housing experience; but as a College, we can’t reach them when they’re scattered around campus,” she said. “With a smaller community, we can pull students together. This gives us the opportunity to do specific things with them and put them in situations to learn and grow.”
Initiated in the fall of 2009, the LLC is now in its fourth year at Clemson. The program accepts around 30 residents a year and students must submit an application to be considered. According to Goodenow, the number is limited so residents have the opportunity to get to know each other better and so that the quality of students in the program remains high. Those chosen to participate have the potential to be outstanding scholars and leaders within the College of HEHD and also in the Clemson student body and the communities they will serve after graduation.
“The LLC isn’t for every student,” Goodenow said. “It’s for those who want an all-encompassing experience - to be ambassadors, leaders and involved in community service. We target students who want an academic experience as well as a leadership experience.”
Connecting with HEHD
The LLC helps students connect with the College by introducing residents to its six Learner Dispositions. Designed to address all areas of the HEHD curriculum, these learning outcomes prepare students to become professionals in addition to the content knowledge and skills they learn in the classroom. These dispositions are associated with the values of HEHD and include working collaboratively, leading creatively, demonstrating resilience and an entrepreneurial spirit, exhibiting ethical conduct, possessing global perspective, becoming lifelong learners, appreciating diversity and understanding the complex global economy.
Larry Allen, dean of the College of HEHD, believes the LLC helps enhance the connection between the College and its students. “Having a better support system of like-minded young people who are all in the same college gives students something they can identify with,” said Allen. “Most people don’t know the college they’re in. We want to help them identify with our College, realize the structure in place and expose them to our philosophy and expectations.”
Resources for learning & leading
In addition to helping them connect with HEHD, the program provides residents with an environment and resources to help them succeed academically, professionally and as leaders in the community. Students living in the LLC have enhanced access to each other and to HEHD resources and programs.
In terms of academics, the LLC offers weekly hall advising sessions, visits from campus departments, a specialized program course and increased interaction with faculty and peers. Peer advisers live within the community and upperclass students serve as tutors, mentors and role models. Programs that focus on professional development present opportunities for residents to network with people in their prospective fields and gain educational experiences outside of the classroom. Students collaborate with others in their majors and work closely with administration and leaders at Clemson and in the community. The LLC also focuses heavily on service-learning as a cornerstone of the program. Service-learning opportunities provide students with practical experiences that demonstrate classroom principles and help them grow in leadership roles as they work together with a common goal of benefiting others.
However, these resources and opportunities don’t just help students during their freshman year. The benefits of learning and leadership residents receive extend long after their time living in the program. According to Goodenow, the LLC not only helps students in their first year, but throughout their time at Clemson and in the future. “We try and promote lifelong leadership to the residents,” she said. “A lot of them get into leadership positions and go on to do other great things, so there really is a long-term benefit.”
Allen says the program helps enhance students’ involvement both in their freshman year and in their later years at Clemson. “Having a greater network right off the bat gets them more engaged across campus,” he said. “As a result we have more active juniors and seniors due to their exposure in the community and camaraderie they get in program.”
Making the transition
The LLC offers these resources so that first-year students can make the most of their Clemson experience. By enhancing personal connections, supporting academic success, facilitating professional development, and encouraging student engagement and service, the community helps ease students’ transition to college in a variety of ways.
Abbey Robinson, president of the LLC and a nursing major, says the community helped her feel at home right away. “It can be intimidating coming somewhere and not knowing people,” said Robinson. “But with the LLC, you have a community already built around you coming in. You have an automatic connection with the people you are living with. Everyone is studious and supportive of education, and there are fun events to connect with people. The LLC cultivates learning and social aspects combined with the overall college experience.”
Living in such a close community allows students to develop their social interests while they pursue their academic and career goals. Residents create lifelong relationships that carry with them beyond their time at Clemson. Katie Payne, an LLC resident and education major, says she developed close ties with others in the program that she couldn’t have done anywhere else. “Moving in and having that immediate connection was so comforting and made college easier right away,” she said. “The people in HEHD have a lot in common because we are outgoing and like taking care of people. Not only do our personalities mesh really well, but we have a lot to teach each other. Our hall really is a family.”