College can be filled with stress about classes and preparing to be an adult, but it is a place where people can also form life-changing friendships. It is a place where one conversation could lead to meeting someone a person can’t live without.
Living Learning Communities have been at WKU for years, but they increased in number when Regents Hall and Normal Hall were built in the 2021-2022 school year.
In Regents and Normal Halls, freshmen within the same major live on the same floor. Groups of around 25 students live in “pods,” or shared areas that contain a community space, two community bathrooms, a private bathroom and a kitchen, according to the Housing and Residence Life website. In pod style housing, there is one resident
assistant per pod.
Normal and Regents have multiple pods per floor, but each pod is their own community, said Cassidy Counter, the current program director of Living Learning Communities at WKU.
Some LLCs have one pod of students, and others have a whole floor of pods. Some of the programs that have an LLC at WKU are agriculture, business and the College of Health and Human Services.
“When RAs are placed, they try to be intentional about where the RAs end up by having an RA who shares the same major as the LLC students. This gives the RA a great way to connect with their residents because they start off the year knowing they already have something in common,” Counter said. “This doesn’t always happen as sometimes we may have an awesome RA who just doesn’t have the same major. And that’s OK too. They at least know that the residents in their pod have a common interest, and they can still use that to connect with residents.”
She said many LLCs also have connected courses that LLC students take together.
“This is a great way for students to experience learning both inside and outside the classroom,” Counter said.
Sophomore Jasper Gray from Deputy, Indiana, and Pekin, Indiana, sophomores Lily Nale and Braylie Green are close friends. All three belonged to the agriculture LLC their freshman year and are animal science majors, with Gray having a second major in agribusiness.
Nale and Green have been friends since seventh grade.
“Coming into freshman year as roommates and friends, we were excited to make new friends in college,” Nale said.
The pair met Gray at a taco night in their dorm, Green said.
Gray said he learned valuable life lessons on empathy and helpfulness from being in an LLC.
“Be nice to everyone; you never know what someone is going through,” Gray said.
All three friends said that they are thankful they joined the LLC last year. Gray emphasized the closeness of their friendship.
“We are a group of friends that can be brutally honest with each other because the honesty is out of love,” Gray said.
Nale, Green and Gray all said they would recommend joining an LLC to incoming freshmen.
“Be involved, apply yourself. Every freshman is in the same boat, they are all scared and nervous. Just get involved and talk,” Gray said.
Nale said the friends are grateful that their LLC brought them together.
“I could talk about this friendship forever because of how much it means to me. I can’t believe we have only known each other for a year,” Nale said.
Madison, Alabama, senior Layla Dalton has been an RA since spring 2021. She initially decided to become an RA due to the role her freshman year RA had in shaping her college experience. Dalton said her RA helped her find friends and feel welcome, and she said she wanted to be that welcoming force for other students.
Dalton was an RA in the business LLC in the 2021-2022 school year and continued as one for the 2022-2023 school year. She said she has seen smaller friendships of two to three people bloom on her floor, but she also said her pod hangs out in their common area every night.
“I think LLCs are a great way to find great friendships and form bonds, for students to learn more about their majors, network in class and be able to apply that to their future careers,” she said.
She said LLCs are valuable for all students.
“Even if you are not positive that your major will stay the same, it will still be beneficial. It is common to change your major, but it is no reason to shy away from LLCs,” Dalton said.
Elizabethtown sophomore Danni Clair was a freshman in the criminology LLC in 2021. It was in this LLC that she met one of her closest friends, Owensboro sophomore Jesse Payne.
Payne and Clair met at an LLC meeting, where Clair had cow print fuzzy socks on, and Payne was wearing cow slippers. Clair said she told Payne she liked her slippers. This sparked a conversation, and they said they realized they have a lot of similar interests.
Clair noted the role her LLC played in her transition to college.
“I was shy going into college and felt that the LLC helped open me up and push me out of my comfort zone,” Clair said.
She said LLCs help students improve both their social life and their academic life.
“Living with people that are in the same classes as you creates strong friendships and makes the classwork easier because you can talk about assignments with people on your floor,” Clair said.
Clair and Payne’s RA was also a significant part of their LLC experience. A criminology major as well, their RA held events with her pod. For one event, she brought a case file game and the residents had to figure out “who did it,” which incorporated both their major and team building, Clair said.
“I didn’t know anyone on the Hill, but being in the LLC was a great way to transition to college life,” Clair said.
Though Payne is attending a community college this year, Clair and Payne are still good friends. Clair said that without the LLC, she would have never talked to Payne or any of her other friends that she made last year.
Grace Adler, a freshman from Evansville, and Bayleigh Criss, a freshman from Hardinsburg are both currently in the College of Health and Human Services LLC.
The pair met through the WKU roommate portal. They were random roommates, but after talking, they realized they had a lot of mutual friends, sparking their friendship.
Adler said the LLC has been beneficial.
“It makes adjusting to college easier,” Adler said.
Criss said that the College of Health and Human Services LLC is a close-knit group of friends. Adler described it as “a family dynamic,” where they hang out often in their common area as well as go to the store together and play volleyball games.
“If somebody wants to go get food, there are always people to join them,” Adler said.
Adler said she loves the different programs hosted by their LLC fellow Marsha Hopper and their RA Emma Williams and recently attended a yoga class with her pod.
“It was more of a kicks and giggles thing instead of actual meditation,” Adler said.
Criss said that she has learned a lot about communication since living in the LLC.
“We’ve learned how to work together as a family and be there for each other and communicate how we are feeling and what we need to do to help others around us,” she said.
Both friends agreed that LLCs help freshmen adapt to the change that comes from moving to college.
“It makes it easier adjusting to college because you have all of those people around you that are in the same boat,” Adler said.
According to the Housing and Residence Life website, LLCs on WKU’s campus provide students with opportunities to make connections with professors, get career advice from advisers and RAs and be surrounded by students with the same major.
“It’s a bond you can’t really get anywhere else,” Gray said.