The residential and developmental needs of students change from freshman year to senior year as they develop friendships, academic interests, living styles and new levels of maturity. In response to these changing needs, Elon is developing plans for a four-year residence life pathway that tailors housing to each stage of students' development.
Students arrive on campus to assigned housing in the core of the community. These spaces, identified as the Historic Neighborhoods and the North Area, celebrate the university’s ethos. Living with first-year students are handfuls of sophomores, juniors and seniors who reflect for them the journey of the undergraduate experience at Elon. These facilities are designed based on what we know about a student’s first year in college - that they arrive in need of a community that will support their initial understanding of academic expectations, personal responsibility and independent living. The environment should allow for guidance and orientation.
The facilities designed with this in mind, include shared bedrooms and community spaces strategically only available outside their rooms. They also include opportunities for academic interaction. We envision classroom and multipurpose space available on the ground floor, as well as adjacent to first year living space. Additionally, these housing spaces have workrooms where students are practicing music, creating art and engaged.
In keeping with our goal of each residential area having an iconic role in the community, first-year housing will need icons that represent the core values of the institution, such as the traditions of Numen Lumen, service learning and global studies.
The location of these residential facilities in the core of campus places the student close to the library, academic spaces, dining halls, wellness facilities, and the multi-faith center - all critical for students to engage in a balanced lifestyle during time at the University. Interactions with faculty are increased in this living environment and become the cornerstone for the intellectual climate the new residential campus supports.
First year students are academically involved in orientation via Elon 101, a core general education curriculum and begin exploring the possibilities of their major. We envision many of these first-year experiences being offered in or adjacent to first-year residential spaces. The first year education is foundational, offering a set group of classes with a wide range of opportunities to help students recognize their academic passions.
A second-year student is surrounded by a smaller community. They have exchanged their Elon 101 advisor for an advisor within their academic major and developed a smaller circle of friends during their first-year experience. Having completed a year as a member of a student organization, several will move to leadership roles and/or become more active organizational members. Second-year students are considering global experiences and many launch into study abroad and planning for internships. These students are beginning to see themselves beyond Elon as they watch and learn from third- and fourth-year students. Many of which still live on campus and are utilizing dining, wellness and academic spaces frequented by second year students.
These students are located on the edge of the core, primarily in the Danieley Center; but also in Greek Housing and the Colonnades.
Danieley Center is host to wellness facilities (possibly a new gym) and outdoor recreation (a lakeside sun/cook-out area and perhaps miniature golf). Students still enjoy a sense of community in and outside of their living spaces, but also feel a sense of independence as they move farther from the core of the campus center. A path to the core of campus is visible and inviting to second-year students.
Within their respective schools and departments, students are becoming citizens in their majors engaging in discipline-specific Elon Experiences, such as undergraduate research, service learning, study abroad and planning for internships. Many of these interests they take back to their living spaces, utilizing community spaces for group projects and mentoring. Additionally, they are engaged in the iconic space where first-year students are living, visiting the dining hall there, studio/work spaces and offices intentionally designed in these spaces.
The third-year student is now deeply rooted in their academic experience and is highly engaged in the intellectual climate of the university. There is some reduction in the on-campus presence of juniors as the university furthers its goal to have more of them involved in full semesters of study abroad. From a residential life perspective this means the need to consider a half-year resident model.
The third-year student is seeking more independent living and because of the demands of their study schedule is more likely to seek a private room. Working in smaller cohorts in seminar style classrooms, these students need study spaces that allow two or thre of them to come together and work, as well as an assurance that they can work in quiet. Their general education curriculum requires them to take upper-level courses in the arts and sciences and writing intensive general studies courses. As a result they are drawn to work spaces to support these requirements.
Third-year students are drawn to the amenities of the campus, such as a robust broadband connection, 24/7 library space, convenient healthy food, access to faculty, visiting speakers, the study abroad office, career services and the internship coordinators. During the day and often in the evenings, they are still drawn to the iconic spaces offered in the first- and second-year housing. However, they prefer the quiet of more independent living and seek housing that is on the outer rim of campus. We see these students primarily in the Oaks and have designed the space to retain 75 percent of third-year students in residential life.
Fourth-year students are often in the process of returning to campus from a global experience or a significant internship experience. Many of them are also deep into an undergraduate research experience that positions them for graduate studies. They will close their Elon experience in a senior capstone course and possibly enroll in a transitions course that prepares them for life after Elon. One often finds the fourth-year student in career services, seeking opportunities and planning for life after graduation.
These students have meaningful communities established in their academic areas, but also have deep social communities on campus. We find many fourth-year students are as involved on campus as first-year students, but now fully recognize the assets of on-campus living and are active participants, while not frequent leaders, in events and speakers on campus, as well as athletic events, student organizations and recreation. The fourth-year student is often found visiting the iconic spaces in first-, second- and third-year housing.
The fourth-year student is focused on independent living and life after Elon. We envision these students to desire a “senior village” where they can live as they would after leaving Elon. This living environment adjacent to campus has iconic opportunities in entrepreneurial activities. Nestled within their new independent living space are small businesses and non-profits that reflect the Elon ethos. We imagine a few of them are owned and operated by students.
The fourth-year student has firmly established communities and as such is often more willing to engage with first-year students and share their Elon Experience. The retail and non-profit opportunities, nestled within their independent living space, allow for these interactions.
In the same way our parents become smarter the older we are, a fourth-year student is forming a collegial relationship with their faculty. The retail and non-profit spaces in the “senior village” also allow for interactions with faculty and staff on campus with fourth-year students.
The retail spaces in the “senior village” might also include an incubator of sorts for new, small businesses being started by recent Elon graduates and mirror for fourth-year students what that experience looks like.
Many of the Elon fourth-year students will consider graduate education as a possibility. We see one of the elements of the “senior village” is that it becomes a possible home to a handful of graduate students and visiting professionals.