Photo by Sam Mayo
Living in the dorms is not only a rite of passage, but also an experience that has a great influence on a student’s freshman year.
Fate ultimately determines which building, roommates and resident advisor a student ends up with, leaving little to a student’s control.
However, freshman do have the ability to choose which floor their room will be on if they decide to live in a Residential Learning Community.
San Diego State offers 18 Residential Living Communities that a freshman can choose to reside in as opposed to regular ol’ dorm life.
A few of the university’s residence halls house the RLCs. Each community is an entire floor dedicated to a specific topic of study.
The learning communities cover a vast area of interests and majors ranging all the way from adventures in surfing and sustainability to visual and performing arts to pre-law.
Because the learning communities create a collaborative environment, students can easily form study groups with one another as they help each other transition into dorm life.
“Overall, our learning communities are very popular,” Residential Education Office Associate Director Jenna Hazelton said. “Numbers wise, business, health and healing and ‘Discover San Diego State’ seem to be requested the most each year.”
SDSU’s learning communities can be found in Zura Hall and Maya/Olmeca Hall as well as Cuicacalli Suites, although some are subject to change locations due to sizes and student requests.
“I loved living in the learning community as a freshman,” accounting senior Alex Purcell said. “It connected me with people who were in my major and had the same ambitions as me.”
The learning communities have evolved since their beginning in 2004. Hazelton said they began as FGIs, or Freshman Interest Groups. Those interest groups have since grown into a large community program which now includes one to two required courses.
“The only thing I didn’t like about the experience was that we had to take an additional class that was just a big waste of time,” Purcell said. “But I still take classes with my old floormates today and it is really nice to have that smaller community of friends.”
In addition to making valuable friendships and class connections, the learning communities give freshmen access to an academic mentor who is trained to assist students with academics while living on their floor.
Academic mentors periodically meet with the students to check that they are enrolled in the correct courses as well as to help them plan their future semester courses.
“We try to place resident advisors and academic mentors on each floor where they are enrolled in the areas of study or have an interest in the topic area,” Hazelton said. “It may not always be possible, but most times we are able to accomplish this.”
Residential Learning Communities are just one of the many resources that SDSU offers in order to help freshmen ease into their higher education as an Aztec.
A complete list of the 18 Residential Learning Communities can be found at SDSU’s housing portion of its website.