Residential Villages in College Communities

With the increasing college-campus populations at thousands of schools and universities cross the country, a rising trend in construction of residential villages is popping up in many states. Residential villages and communities can provide college students with unique environments for learning, socializing, collaborating, and experiencing their college years. Residential villages are a key part of many university campuses including schools such as Salem Glen, Bates College, and the famed UMR Residential College at the University of Missouri.

Traditionally, residential and community life was centered on Greek housing styles. Fraternities and sororities often created their cultures through acquiring specific housing and apartment units in different areas of a college campus. Daily life centered on the group’s culture, and continues to create its own unique college experience.

Today’s residential villages are crossing the ‘Greek border’ into new territory. Instead of membership in a fraternity or sorority, residential villages and community options are open to thousands of students pursuing specific research and education. Colleges are taking steps to acquire new housing complexes to cater to the trend. Buildings and complexes can include attractive amenities such as wireless networking, electronic information boards, music practice rooms, and open floor plans for luxury apartments. Walk-up computer kiosks and access to community rooms makes these residential villages similar to hotel-style, even resort-living.

Key differences in residential villages of college communities of today, can be found in the increase in luxe-style apartments and housing, and the creation of internal referral systems for its residents on campus. Instead of a resident screening process strictly reserved for the Greek cultures, colleges are creating new menus of living choices available to a diverse range of students. The strong focus on research and education for niche industries and globally-applicable subjects is also setting a fresh trend.

In 2004, UMR students could take part in ‘Learning Communities’ officially sponsored by the university itself. These communities opened up unique and exploratory ways to learn about topics such as ‘Global Entrepreneurship,’ ‘Global Research’, and ‘Women as Global Leaders.’ Living, eating, and studying together provides a shared sense of space and knowledge; research communities such as these can be a valuable enhancement for a variety of college students.

Collaborative learning has taken on new heights and formats, with the advent of the internet. Today’s web capabilities to deliver online education on thousands of majors and areas of study are growing in diversity and size. Residential colleges and communities are also providing a favorable learning environment under the same premise. Being able to collaborate, learn, and grow within this ‘fixed’ environment may encourage unique developments, along with the creation of new ideas and endeavors.

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