Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol 49, No. 1 - 36

Students' Lived Experiences
of NACE Competencies Within
Collegiate Residential Life
THE RESIDENTIAL COMMUNITY IS A KEY PART OF THE COLLEGE EXPERIENCE
simply because students spend a large majority of their time in the places
where they live. Given this fact, a student's interactions and engagement with
their community can positively impact their learning experience. We utilized
a constructivist, qualitative, phenomenological study design to examine the
residential life experiences of students with the competencies outlined by the
National Association of Colleges and Employers. Findings from a thematic analysis
of 15 semi-structured interviews resulted in three emergent themes around which
students connect their residential life experiences to the competencies: unique
context, engagement with residence life, and utilization and growth. This research
is important for scholars and housing professionals alike as it advances knowledge
in both career readiness and our understanding of how the residential experience
contributes to transferable skills.
T
he residential community is a key part of the college experience if only because
college students spend a large majority of their time in the places where they live
(Riker & Decoster, 2008). Given this fact, a student's interactions and engagement
with their residential community have an important impact on their learning
experience. In his defense of liberal education in The Idea of a University, John Henry
Newman explains that when " keen, open-hearted, sympathetic, and observant [students]
. . . come together and freely mix with each other, they are sure to learn one from
another, even if there be no one to teach them " (1893, p. 146). There is knowledge to
be gained by simply meeting people from different life experiences and with different
perspectives. This centuries-old concept is still exhibited on today's college and university
campuses, specifically within residential communities.
Newman's idea remains essential in modern higher education institutions because
students expect a college education to serve as an investment in the development of
employability skills that can help them secure a job upon graduation (Krukowski,
1985). Employability-skill development is inherently incorporated in the university curriculum
(Tymon, 2013), but it does not exclusively occur in the classroom (Thompson
et al., 2013). These skill sets can also be taught as part of the residential experience and
Volume 49, No. 1 * 2022 33

Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol 49, No. 1

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