The Daily Illini

Editorial: Living learning community for mostly learning

By The Daily Illini Editorial Board

There is a difficult balance facing young undergraduates at our University. Finding the balance between difficult course work across subjects and a booming social life at the nation’s top party school is challenging for even the best students.

The students here are mostly driven and want to do well, with many participating in the University’s James Scholar honors program or the Campus Honors Program. These students have extra responsibilities like honors projects and accelerated classes along with normal student schedules.

Having these extra responsibilities can be more overwhelming for young students who are still trying to navigate a college atmosphere. First and second year students are prone to stress and need extra support from friends to make their transition to school and adulthood successful.

Added support could come from a Living Learning Community, and one is being created for these students in Nugent Hall next year.

These two floors of the dorm will serve as an honors program LLC comprised with half first year students and half returning students. Students will take a one hour course aimed at introducing them to the honors program along with living in the community.

The goal of the LLC is to have honors students from across the different colleges work and learn together, according to Nathan Sanden, Assistant Director of Housing for Academic Programs.

Having some of the best and brightest all on two floors will also allow them to lean on one another for support when transitioning into college. Despite having different areas of study, honors student have a shared experience to bond over, and hopefully the returning students can give valuable advice to their younger floormates.

But, like anything, there are pitfalls. Some students who are equally as talented and driven, but might not have had the top grades in high school or transferred from another university do not have access to the same resources. Not to mention that it will not be possible for every honors program and James Scholar student to live on the two floors — meaning some students will inevitably be excluded.

Nugent is also a newer dorm with higher costs, which may discourage some cash-strapped honors students from living there, especially when LLCs are more expensive at the University than standard dorms to begin with.

Another argument against LLCs in general is that they keep students from expanding their horizons. Part of the greatness of freshman year dorms is the diversity in personalities and lifestyles. An honors student’s study habits can rub off on a roommate who may be less academically motivated, but that student could teach the honors student how to take a night off.

The same could be said about any LLC, but an honors group provides its own set of unique benefits and challenges.

It has the potential to be a great emotional and academic support system that would expand minds and help transition gifted students. But it also has the potential to create a stressful, competitive environment.

Only time will tell how how the LLC plays out and the roll it takes in University housing. 

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