Winter Hall from a drone photo, with downtown Grand Rapids in background

Grand Rapids LLCs offer academic, social benefits to new, transfer students

When the new Living-Learning Communities open on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus, they will follow the successful model of the six LLCs in Allendale that offer students an immersive learning experience.

Four new LLCs will open for, primarily, first-year or transfer students in Winter Hall in the Fall semester. Three are for students who have chosen to major in social work, engineering or business. The fourth — Momentum House — is geared toward students who are undecided or have selected a different major.

Faculty and staff members involved in planning these Grand Rapids LLCs said students will benefit from living and learning together in a cohort because of their shared interests.

Brett Crawford, assistant professor of management, said first-year students taking general education classes will see advantages if they choose a Winter Hall LLC.

"We typically don't see students in business courses until the end of their sophomore year," Crawford said. "So students in the Winter Hall LLC would be with like-minded students, taking classes together on the downtown campus and participating in the experiential learning opportunities that will be offered."

Holly Cookson-Martinez sits at a desk in her Winter Hall room.
Holly Cookson-Martinez is a senior who works as a resident assistant in Winter Hall.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts
two students cross street in front of Secchia Hall on Pew Grand Rapids Campus, Rapid bus coming into view on right side of photo
Students cross the street on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. New LLCs will open in the fall semester for, primarily, first-year and transfer students.
Image credit - Kendra Stanley-Mills

Kathryn Christopher, visiting faculty of engineering, said first- and second-year students may not have the same "sense of belonging" to a community as upper-division students. Moving and adding sections of general education courses to the Pew Grand Rapids Campus should amend that, she said.

"Every engineering student has the same first-year sequence of classes but there are so many sections of these classes," Christopher said. "Students in the Engineering LLC would be taking the same section of a general education class."

Students in the Grand Rapids LLCs will also discover benefits from the "hidden curriculum," Crawford said. The teams involved in planning have developed co-curricular activities for all LLC participants that connect them to downtown businesses and services through group projects, internships, field trips and volunteer opportunities. 

"Employers want people who can demonstrate their work in teams and who have had internships. For students who choose the Grand Rapids LLCs, it's that access to the downtown community that will serve as a path to employment," Crawford said.

Deborah Ronk, field education coordinator for the MSW program, said living in the heart of Grand Rapids offers students opportunities to gain a greater understanding of cultures and social justice issues.

The four Grand Rapids LLCs are designed for a total of 200 students. Learn more about the downtown communities online. 


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