Education - Page 8 - Campus life beyond the classroom

- Page 8
Campus life beyond the classroom
Programs and new facilities help enrich the campus experience

By Megan Weeden, Contributing Writer

Studying, learning and preparing for your future aren’t the only things that make up college campus life – there’s also some free time to fill. Luckily, college campuses are filled with resources and services to enhance your campus experience.

Freshman year can be a difficult transition for students – from home-sickness to dealing with their newly found independence.

Salisbury University’s freshman students can choose to live with others who share similar interests in a Living Learning Community (LLC), which can make the first-year transition easier.

LLCs are a residential community dedicated to a specific academic college, major or theme, and Salisbury offers almost 20 different LLCs including Art, Biology, Campus and Community Engagement, Social Justice, Honors, Explorers, Performing Arts and Entrepreneurship.

LLC students share common courses in the fall and spring and participate in trips and activities designed to bring the community theme to life. Biology majors make friends while exploring local ecosystems and participating in outdoor team challenges, STEM-focused students discover various science- and technology-related opportunities while enjoying fun activities together, and students interested in wellness live with other students focused on living a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

All LLCs are located in residence halls and have access to smart classrooms that double as study areas, large common areas with flat-screen TVs and pool tables, suite-style rooms and guidance to find the right next step in student housing.

“The LLCs provide support during this transition period,” says Dave Gutoskey, director of housing and development. “It also gives the students the opportunity to have a smaller cohort to identify with, so it makes moving away to school a little less daunting. Once the students go through the program for a year, they’ve met people, are in the routine of school and they know their way around. They’re less overwhelmed.”

Dorothy MacLean-Blevins, now a junior, lived in the Honors LLC as a freshman at Salisbury. “It was a very good experience,” says MacLean-Blevins. “It was a year of making friends and making the best of my first year of college. We went on trips and attended seminars together. A lot of what we learned in LLC helped us survive our first year of college. I recommend it to all incoming freshman. It’s a good way to meet people.”

In addition to offering students LLCs, students are required to live on campus for at least two years.

“Research indicates that students who live on campus for the first two years of their college experience have a higher four-year graduation rate and have a higher GPA than those that move off campus their sophomore year,” says Gutoskey. “Plus, it relieves the stress for freshman having to find a place to live off campus the next year. It really works out well.”

Campus life is not all about academics. Last February, Stevenson University finished renovating Garrison Hall North, an underused academic and administration building, and opened its new student activities space on the Owings Mills campus – the Garrison Hall Student Commons.

Among the features of this modern, multi-use center is a state-of-the-art eSports suite, home of Stevenson’s eSports club and a fitness center. A new venture for Stevenson, eSports is a popular form of competitive electronic sports, where players form teams and compete against other teams from all over the world on a live-streaming platform. Collegiate eSports includes students from all different majors and backgrounds who are interested in playing a certain game competitively or those who are interested in building a community around video game competing.

“A lot of gaming in general is moving to computers and the computer gaming room is super popular,” says Matt Grimm, assistant athletic director for campus recreation.

The new eSports suite contains 25 custom gaming PCs, special gaming chairs, a wall-mounted flat-screen TV and a projector. The players can use the room to practice individually or within teams or to host gaming-related events such as viewing parties and in-house tournaments. The Garrison Hall Fitness Center serves as a predominantly cardio-based gym and will be adding fitness classes such as Zumba, yoga and kickboxing.

“The cool thing about the space is there’s something for everyone,” says Grimm. “If you want to hang out and play games or want to workout, it was a good addition. I think we’ve done a good job of reusing space and it’s added a lot to campus life.”

There are also plans to add a coffee shop and reading room to the building.

University libraries across the country have been more than just books and a place to pull an all-night study session for a long time now. For many college students, the library serves as their academic hub on campus.

The University of Baltimore’s Langsdale Library recently completed a $23.4 million renovation that took more than three years and is now a modern, state-of-the-art, flexible space renamed the Robert L. Bogomolny Library.

Designed by Behnisch Architekten of Boston, the building features a checkerboard metal-and-glass exterior, highlighted by a glass atrium spanning all four levels of the building. The focal point is the new main entrance and creates an open flow throughout the entire building.

Inside, the library has evolved into a space focused on student learning and collaboration, with group study rooms on several floors that can be reserved in advance, quiet floors on the top and more social floors on the bottom. An open floor plan allows students to move around and set up tables and chairs for group or independent study. Other study rooms are filled with technology that serve a variety of different purposes such as practicing presentations.

“People really like the space because it’s a bright, airy open space with really good areas for students to do individual studying and group studying,” says John Chapin, director of academic success. “It’s really important for a non-residential commuter school. Students have a happy and comfortable home base when they’re on campus. Our goal is really to be the hub of students’ academic time when they’re on campus.” • 

PHOTO DESCRIPTION: Left: Stevenson University students form teams and compete against other teams from all over the world on a live-streaming platform in the popular gaming Photo courtesy of Stevenson University room at the state-of-the-art eSports suite

Getting involved in campus life

There’s much more to the college experience than simply going to classes. Participating in student organizations and campus events can be a great way to get to know your school, make friends, build a network and have some fun along the way.

College campuses offer many opportunities to get involved and it will enrich your experience – but you have to seek them out.

Join a club, participate in student government, join the school paper, try a sport or become a tutor. Get a campus job or study abroad.

Being involved helps students become connected to their school and helps them build community.

There’s often temporary activities or projects that might be fun too like a volunteer opportunity or a special campus event.

Don’t be afraid to try something new. You might not know that you really enjoy ballroom dancing or gardening. •