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Scholars programs and learning communities provide close-knit living

SueLoyd Thong, a first-year in microbiology and Brooks Nieberding, a first-year hang out on the 8th floor of Smith-Steeb Hall, where the international affairs scholars are housed. Credit: Courtesy of Sam Harris

For Fernando Esquivel, a first-year in international business and an international affairs scholar, living on a scholars floor has its perks. Despite his constant microwave malfunctions, he never fails to find a floormate’s to use.

Ohio State students who participate in any of the 17 interest-focused scholars programs or 19 learning communities are required to live in the dorm respective to their program alongside  peers.

Doing so allows students to make connections early at Ohio State and gives them the ability to bond over common interests, Esquivel said.

“It was really nice honestly, moving in [on a scholars floor],” Esquivel said. “It was a lot easier than I thought because everyone kept their door open and was willing to meet new people.”

Beth Fines, associate director of academic initiatives for residence life, said scholars programs and learning communities have a coursework component that allows students to connect with faculty and peers who provide them with a deeper sense of belonging at Ohio State.

“Learning communities can really serve as a great jumping-off point for participants,” Fines said in an email. “With a campus the size of OSU, LCs and scholars programs enable students to connect over a shared interest in a smaller and more tight-knit environment.”

Additionally, most scholars programs and learning communities require participating students to attend events and programming throughout the year that allow students to bond over similar passions.

Jessica Griffin, a second-year in industrial and systems engineering, as well as a member and resident adviser of the SUSTAINS learning community, said that she and fellow program peers are required to attend events related to the group’s theme: environmental issues and sustainability.

“The first weekend we got there, we went out to a farm and built above-ground gardens and plants and [were] doing heavy labor with each other, and pretty much everybody learned each other’s names in that first day,” Griffin said. “You are walking into your first semester at Ohio State with 30 new friends that you can talk to.”

Griffin said that second-years in SUSTAINS are required to live on the same floor as the first-years, giving younger members an opportunity to seek advice from more-experienced students.

“If they have a question about a class or a general question about Ohio State, they have someone that they already know that has one year of experience to talk to, which I think was really helpful in terms of helping our residents settle in,” Griffin said.

Isaac Loffing, a first-year in human resources management and Spanish and an international affairs scholar, said that living on a scholars floor offers opportunities he might not get otherwise.

Students living on his floor can always be found socializing in the hallway, and he said that being a few doors down from his friends makes dorm life feel more like home.

“I think scholars provides you a good background of friends,” Loffing said. “I feel like I can knock on someone’s door if I need to ask for something as opposed to if I were just living in a random dorm on a random floor.”

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