If you've got one of these beautiful red envelops in the mail, congratulations, and welcome to Hoosier Nation. After deciding to attend IU, and saying #Yes2IU, you have another important decision to make: Where to live? All incoming freshmen live in the dorms, but the dorms provide many choices. Which neighborhood should you live in? Would you rather live in a dorm with nice amenities, or live in a dorm that is cheaper? Should you apply for an LLC, Thematic Community, Academic Floor, or none of the above? Last month, IU announced the the creation of a new LLC, known as INSPIRE. I had the opportunity to sit down with the director of INSPIRE, a former professor of mine, Dr. James Damico, to learn more about the program so that I could share it with you. It's important to remember that this will be INSPIRE's first year, and the concept is hot off the press - not all the details are worked out yet.
LLC stands for Living-Learning Center. It's a special type of living arrangement in the dorms. For most living arrangements in the dorms, you're just put onto a floor with no regard for interests or majors (and, to be fair, that's not a bad system - you get to make friends in diverse fields). LLCs and thematic communities are different, in that everyone in them are united by some common thread, be it a major or interest. LLCs are more professional and formal than thematic communities, having faculty members involved in organizing them (in thematic communities, a planning committee of residents and the RA work together on programming) and usually have some form of class that is required.
I know, I know. "An extra class, required for my residence? That sounds terrible," you're thinking. It's not bad; in fact it's helpful. As you transition to college, you're likely to have classes larger than any of the ones you've had before, yet not really get to know anyone in it. The people on your floor will be the people you're most likely to get to know. Having a class with the people you live with will help you get to know them better, and allows you to work together on work for the class. You're also likely to have other classes with members of your LLC, because of your similar academic interests and majors, and therefore may be able to study for those classes together as well. And, perhaps most importantly, this class is usually only 1-2 credit hours; useful, easy, and not very time consuming.
INSPIRE is located at Rose Residence Hall, IU's newest dorm. Rose in an incredibly nice dorm, located in the southeast neighborhood, right next to the School of Education. While the cost may deter some students, many people who live there say that they believe that it's well worth the extra cost. If you'd like to live in a nice dorm, Rose is great option. To see a list of what dorms cost, visit this page on the RPS website.
The School of Education is committed to providing competitive scholarships INSPIRE students can apply for to further help with the costs.
INSPIRE is an LLC for those with an interest in becoming teachers. It is not limited to education majors; those who are undecided and may want to major in education are also welcome. Those with an interest in SPEA's Education Policy Minor may also want to be involved in the program. As Dr. Damico put it, "INSPIRE is for those with a passion for learning and interest in teaching."
INSPIRE will not only be freshmen. 54 students will live in INSPIRE. Upperclassmen in INSPIRE will act as sort of student-mentors to freshmen, assuming leadership roles in the community. INSPIRE will help students build professional networks, with other School of Education students, faculty and staff, graduate students, and alumni. As an education student myself, I can attest to the value of these connections. Some of my best friends are education majors (regardless of concentration or age level), and the people I'm going to rely on for recommendations are the faculty and staff that I've took classes with. These connections can be tough to develop sometimes, but are so incredibly valuable.
Several guiding questions will be explored throughout the year in the INSPIRE LLC. The three primary questions will be: What does it mean to be a 21st century learner and leader in education? What makes an effective teacher in today's highly diverse and technological society? In what ways can we begin to address core challenges affecting different schools and communities?
Activities in the community will include guest speakers (Rose has the ability to house a guest speaker for the community for a few days), service-learning projects, day trips, and K-12 classroom experiences with students and teachers in local schools. All of these are excellent resume building activities as an education major. I'm particularly excited about the opportunity to interact with teachers and students in an education context, because that will help you decide if you really want to be a teacher. Our School of Education places a particular emphasis on giving you opportunities to teach and getting you into the classroom, but it's still common for you to not get opportunities in the classroom classroom regularly until your 4th or 5th semester. Any additional opportunities to interact with students and make that turn from being a student towards being a teacher will greatly benefit you.
If you're interested in living in INSPIRE next year, you should put it as your first choice in you housing application so that you are most likely to get it. Judy Crow, the assistant director of INSPIRE, told me that they've already been receiving applications to the LLC. When you fill out your housing application and select INSPIRE, you'll also be asked to fill out an additional LLC application. The application will be reviewed by the INSPIRE admissions team, with regard to space limitations and creating a diverse and collaborative community, and you will be notified by June 6 about whether you've been selected for a space in the LLC. Even if you've already filled out your housing application, you can edit it and add INSPIRE to your preference list. IMPORTANT: Remember that all housing applications are due by May 1, make sure you have it done before then.
If you want more information on INSPIRE you can visit its School of Education page, its RPS page, or contact directors Dr. James Damico or Judy Crow (their information is located on the School of Education page). If you feel uncomfortable contacting Dr. Damico or Mrs. Crow yourself (I understand, it can be intimidating), fell free to contact me via Twitter for my email address, and I will get the answers to your question for you.