The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2 - 34

Shannon R. Dean * Stephanie L. Dailey

accountable for their coursework. One student
shared how she would often see other students
studying in the hall and would then form informal study groups. Alex stated, "It motivated
me to do well . . . We always pushed each other
to do well on the tests and [to] study together.
Seeing other people succeed is also something
that's another motivating force." Additionally,
Hannah mentioned,
I've had one of my really good friends from the
LLC, and we've had a lot of classes together.
And I know that we count on each other for
[a] lot. If I am like, "Are you going to get this
done?" I know that she's going to get it done.
These examples demonstrate how accountability impacted students' commitment to their
academics.
In addition to accountability, almost every
participant commented on their grades and
the benefits of tutoring while living in the LLC.
Emily mentioned, "Because I got tutoring, it
helped my grades so much. I went from a 45
to a 95 on the next test." For other students, it
was not just the tutoring, but the interactions
with each other that helped them academically.
Luke stated,
I think [the LLC] really helped me academically.
I think just being around the same people that
were asking questions in class and talking
to professors, and had some of the habits of
success, really kind of set the expectations for
me. And helped me push myself later on, and
that was extraordinarily helpful.
Many students discussed the academic benefits in terms of studying, tutoring, and their
peers pushing and encouraging them. Lucy
summed up the academic benefits.
I actually liked it because we've been able to
study together [and] form study groups. It isn't

34

Students' Experiences in a STEM LLC

as difficult when you've been in other classes
[together] . . . and be like "hey, you want to
study?". . . When I meet with them, we ask
each other questions, so that reinforces what
we already learned.

careers as students. Olivia echoed the fact that
"the opportunity to see the different kinds of
areas that you could go into . . . I definitely
think that was the best part of that [one-week
summer] class."

Academic challenges. Although most par-

Participants also spoke of the
support received as part of the LLC
and how that support encouraged
them to continue in their difficult
majors.

Benefits of research. Every student in the
study noted the importance of conducting
research with faculty, which is particularly
important in STEM fields for acceptance into
graduate school and lab positions. For Jack,
working with a faculty member not only helped
him academically, but also helped him solidify
his career path.
Dr. Deal for bioinformatics came up and I
was like "I wanna do that! That's it, right
there!" and it helped me to focus in on what I
wanted to do exactly. . . . It made things a lot
easier on me so that I didn't have to go search
it out myself, 'cause I knew if I had to do
that I wouldn't have done summer research
[and] it would've taken me longer to conduct
research.
Students entering the STEM LLC were all required to take the one-week Freshman Accelerated Research Methods summer workshop,
and many of them spoke about the academic
benefits this initial shared class had on their

THE JOURNAL OF COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT HOUSING

ticipants mentioned the benefits of living in
an LLC, there were some who encountered
academic challenges with this experience.
Some felt compelled to continue with STEM
because they did not want to leave the LLC,
even though their desired career trajectory
changed. Others felt that the LLC was too academically competitive. Katie stated, "Towards
the end, it got a little bit competitive to where,
I mean, you're all in the same classes, and we
would help each other out, like 'oh, do you not
understand this part?'" She was not the only
one who felt the tension among her peers to
succeed. Grace mentioned, "Either you're excelling really far and the people you are with
are not getting as good of grades . . . but I think
for the most part everyone brought each other
up [and] made sure everyone was doing well."
Even though most people felt overwhelmingly
positive about the LLC experience and its academic benefits, there were some who struggled
with the competitive nature of the community.

Social Benefits and Challenges
In addition to discussing the academic component of the LLC, participants spoke at length
about the benefits and challenges of social
aspects of the community.

Social benefits. In many ways, students
viewed the social element of the LLC as a highlight of their college experience. For many, the
LLC was the primary mechanism through which
they built friendships. Twenty participants

The LLC provided a place of
connection for them; indeed, for
most of them, the LLC provided the
most meaningful source of identity.

(87%) shared how they made friends through
the community, like Jack, who said, "the friends
that I made in the LLC are the friends that I
currently still have and all are my best friends."
Many participants referred to their cohort as
"family," attributing their strong friendships to
living on the same residence hall floor together.
Sophie recalled, "We just hung out together all
the time, as family . . . We were just such a strong
community . . . We would hang out in the lobby
all the time. We brought furniture from outside
and created this place to hang out." Others felt
that they built such strong friendships because
they were all living away from home for the first
time. Hannah commented, "most of my friends
. . . are from the community because we [made]
such a strong connection at the beginning when
we were all missing home and going through
this next chapter in your life." In addition to
living together and experiencing homesickness
for the first time, participants bonded through
organized LLC events and outings. Grace said,
"[We] played games around the residence hall
. . . bonding . . . that helped a lot." Outings and
activities were particularly helpful for introverted participants who felt uncomfortable actively
seeking out friendships. Because these students
shared a similar interest in science throughout
their college experience, they were able to maintain friendships built in their first year. Charlotte summarized,

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The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2

Contents
The Journal of College and University Student Housing - Volume 46, No. 2 - Intro
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