Living-learning residence halls help with grades, connections

Students in living-learning communities are able to take advantage of events, speakers and resources that are geared toward their theme or college.

“Every year, the students that are in LLCs have higher GPAs, they have higher rates of course completion and they have higher rates of retention persistence,” said Chris Tankersley, associate director of student learning and assessment. “The data shows that if you’re in an LLC, you perform better academically.”

Living-learning communities are defined by Kent State as “on-campus housing-based communities of students living together in the same on-campus building who share similar academic or special interests.” 

Marianne Warzinski is Olson’s CCI Commons director. Her office is located on the first floor of Olson and her door is always open for her residents.

“My job is to help them academically, get some connections professionally, and help them figure out if they’re in the right major and some ways to involve them a little bit more with their major,” Warzinki said.

The support system for students in living-learning communities is what drives up student grade point averages, Tankersley said. Living-learning communities provide resources that students would otherwise not have access to such as computer labs, design spaces, programs and mentors.

Senior communications major Elizabeth Wolfe has lived at Olson all four years of her college career. While she is a CCI major, she is indifferent to being part of the living-learning communities.

“I like the location of Olson, but the fact it’s an LLC doesn’t do anything extra for me,” Wolfe said. 

Wolfe does not personally participate in the community, but does see the upside to having them.

“I think it can be beneficial to certain people, not even just major-based, but personality-wise,” Wolfe said.

Junior computer science major David Garlak does not live in Dunbar’s ROTC living-learning community as he is a commuter.

“If I put in the effort to stay involved, I feel like I could,” Garlak said of the ROTC community. “But that’s more like a side thing. It’s not what I’m focusing on in coming to school.”

Garlak, like many students, puts his schoolwork ahead of his side interests.

“When I come to school, I pretty much just come for school,” Garlak said. “Typically, the people I hang out with aren’t really involved in my major or in ROTC.”

Tankersley credits living-learning communities with giving students a sense of belonging.

“They know more people,” Tankersley said. “They become more comfortable on campus because they feel like Kent is where they need to be.”

Ben Bower, a junior computer engineering major, lived in Dunbar’s ROTC community his freshman year.

“It was very convenient. If I needed something, I could go ask my squad leader who lived across the hall,” Bower said.

Not being part of a living-learning community does not harm your grades if you are willing to put forth the effort. Living-learning communities are there to provide students with access to a wide variety of professional resources that can only benefit your grades.

“Academically, the LLC provided a good study area so I could be away from other people who wanted to play games or just talk,” Bower said. “I had my own little study area where I could relax and do the work that I needed to do.”

Contact Hannah Gooch at [email protected].