In August 2009, 132 brave CSULB students moved into the residence halls at the former Brooks College, a short distance from the main campus. After nine months of extensive renovation, with the paint still drying, the five-acre Residential Learning College at Long Beach State was launched.
This fall, students clamored for one of the 564 spots at the RLC. In the span of just two short years, the RLC became a destination of choice for CSULB residents.
Why? Again and again, true to President King Alexander’s vision, students cite the sense of community they feel as an RLC resident. According to resident Lisa Lindemann, “The RLC is a community…residents see each other every day in class, in the dining hall, the shuttle and more. I’ve been telling students that there is a bond at the RLC.” At the gated community, which has its own dining hall, study and recreation rooms, classrooms, swimming pool and rooms that feature a unique two bedroom/shared bath configuration, residents form unusually close bonds. And the fact that the RLC is a short distance away from campus, something that was initially viewed with some skepticism by students, has also turned out to be a community enhancer. As junior resident Joey Navarrette says, “The best aspect of living off campus is the fact that students get their privacy away from school. I have the ability to get away from the campus, but I still feel like I am a part of the school’s resident community.”
And, of course, nothing brings people together better than food, which the RLC residents insist is better than the food in the residence hall dining rooms on the main campus. When more people started showing up for Friday night dinners than actually live at the RLC, the rumor that main campus residents go to the RLC dining hall for dates, or make the trek just for the Mongolian barbecue, was confirmed.
Residents have also lined up to take the academic classes offered in the four state-of-the-art classrooms at the RLC. In a unique partnership with Undergraduate Studies, four to six classes have been offered each semester since the RLC opened. From introductory math to English writing and composition, classes are tailored to meet the needs of the freshmen who choose to live at the RLC. Freshmen also enjoy unique academic advising opportunities, thanks to a live-in graduate student advisor. Targeted advising during SOAR, one-on-one meetings with an advisor and pre-advising workshops before mandatory freshmen advising sessions ensure that all RLC freshmen are making progress toward their degrees.
What’s next for the RLC? Plans include expansion of the RLC’s living and learning communities, completion of a computer lab/learning resource center, RLC courses linked with courses on the main campus and the addition of faculty-in-residence. Notes RLC resident Leah Grigas, “I hope that everyone can know just how great it is to live at the RLC and know that it is a place that is completely focused on your life learning. There is so much RLC has to offer students and so much the students have to offer the RLC.”