Building on their Success, Living Learning Communities Set to Expand
California native Katya Sadek ’20 didn’t know a single person at Widener when she arrived as a freshman.
In fact, Sadek didn’t know anyone on the East Coast.
“For me, I was kind of out of my element,” said the nursing major.
Though far from home, Sadek found an immediate second family through her Living Learning Community (LLC).
“I was able to immediately meet people who had similar interests as me and the same major. I was able to really bond with them and connect with them early on during freshman orientation before classes even started,” recalled Sadek, who lived in the Nursing LLC.
“And then once we did start taking our courses,” she adds, “I saw those same familiar faces in my classes."
Part of Widener’s campus for more than a decade, LLCs are unique living experiences for first-year students that bring together people based on shared academic majors, interests, or themes. Students live in designated residence halls or sections of residence halls.
And this fall, Widener will unveil several new LLCs, bringing the total number of options to 10.
The residence hall is more than just a place to lay your head at night. We’re providing students with an experience. And we’re expanding on something that’s already a success. — Dean John Downey
In the fall, engineering, nursing, criminal justice, and pre-physical therapy and pre-occupational therapy majors will have the option to choose LLCs specific to their academic studies. Students in the Honors Program in General Education can opt to live in the Honors LLC, and a First-Generation LLC is geared toward students who are the first in their family to go to college.
Several other LLCs are coming online based on theme, drawing students from across the academic majors. These include LLCs for students interested in entrepreneurship, political engagement, global culture, and sustainability.
“Our goal is to have a large percentage of students who have LLC as an option,” said Downey.
The LLCs have been shown to help ease the transition from home to campus. They offer a built-in support system, lead to increased levels of student engagement, and LLC students demonstrate persistent and strong academic progress throughout their time at Widener.
It was really reassuring to have that immediate community and sense of place at the university. — Katya Sadek '20
The LLC experience is both academic and social.
These communities hold special programming, events, workshops, peer mentoring, and off-campus excursions. The Nursing LLC, for example, runs a CPR relay race and disaster planning Olympics, and monthly events for students to learn about heart health, community nursing, and more. They also offer well-being preparation before final exams.
Some LLCs also include a course component in which students take a common class or two, and interact directly with faculty outside of the traditional classroom setting.
“We’ve found that LLCs not only help students adjust to life in college, but they also improve students’ academic performance,” said Widener Provost Andy Workman.
LLC residents, past and present, have benefitted from the community environment and lifelong friendships formed.
“We were all new to the school, all young, trying to be engineers,” said You. “Students would study in the lounge and form groups. We took our introductory courses together. It was a sense of community.”
On the cusp of graduating, Sadek says living in an LLC her first year contributed to her academic success.
“Even now, to this day, some of my best friends continue to be people I met from the LLC. We’re constantly supporting each other, helping each other out in school, reminding each other of assignments, studying together,” she said. “It really does continue that support system throughout your entire time here.”