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New Freshmen Housing Option
The Bearkat Learning Community (BLC) is a concept designed by the University Retention Committee that specifically targets freshmen with aims to help them adjust to the social and academic challenges of college.
"Every university wants students to graduate," explained Mary Ellen Sims, assistant dean of student life. "This is what SHSU is doing to increase retention."
Thirty-six students comprise the inaugural BLC group and live in Stewart House, a coed academic small house on campus. These students are taking many of the same classes, are involved in the same informal study groups, and attend study skills seminars in the house. By emphasizing togetherness, these students have an immediate support group of peers.
"The students appreciate the attention they get," explained Sims. Student life is hoping this individual attention will help them be more successful in college and in the future.
The students involved contend that they are a close-knit group unlike any other residence hall.
"We do things outside the house too," explained freshman Jeromy Magill. "It's not just academic."
In the spring, the Dept. of Student Life sent application letters to those students who were accepted as incoming freshmen to SHSU, applied for on-campus housing, and were enrolled in 12 hours of class or less. After receiving 300 applicants, the department enlisted the help of Troy Courville, director of institutional research to help randomly select participants.
Other faculty and staff members involved with the BLC include Glenn Sanford, head of the honors program, Jeff Porshe, academic adviser, Monique Olivas, student facilitator, and Bernice Strauss, director of the counseling center.
While research data and rates of success of the BLC will not be available until after the academic year, the department is looking at continuing and possibly expanding the program.
"We would like to accommodate more students in the future," said Sims.
"If these programs work, then we will allow other houses to have the same opportunities," added Strauss. "But this is an assessment year and we have to look at what is successful and what isn't."
Unofficially, it appears, the program has been successful.
"They're just a great bunch," said Sims. The students seem happy and remain "really positive" about their future college endeavors at SHSU.
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