FSU launches new Living Learning Community for first-generation students

Bryan Hall is where the FGEN Noles LLC will be co-located for its first year with the Academic Exploration and Discovery LLC. (FSU Photography Services)
Bryan Hall is where the FGEN Noles LLC will be co-located for its first year with the Academic Exploration and Discovery LLC. (FSU Photography Services)

Enhancing student success is one of Florida State University’s top strategic goals. In Fall 2022, the university will take its commitment to student success one step further by offering a home for first-generation students with the opening of a new living-learning community (LLC).

The FGEN Noles LLC is designed to provide an environment that promotes diversity, inclusion, academic engagement and campus community involvement for FSU students who are the first in their family to go to college. It will serve first-time-in-college (FTIC), first-generation college students with an emphasis on those who are not already served by existing programming.

Through the interdisciplinary living learning community, FTIC, first-generation college students from all majors will engage in intentional development to support their college experience, such as community events, alumni engagement and coursework.

“We know from research that a well-designed LLC is a very high-impact program for students and potentially even more impactful for historically underrepresented students,” said Joe O’Shea, dean of Undergraduate Studies. “This LLC is going to help us live up to our promise as a public university to catalyze social mobility and prepare students for lives of service.”

LLCs are small groups of students who live together, share an interest, and take one or two of their classes together — usually in a small classroom inside their residence hall. Participants will have access to academic support services, including academic advising, college life coaching, tutoring and CARE only scholarships.

The Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement (CARE), directed by DeOnte Brown, will oversee the FGEN Noles LLC.

“The LLC is a gateway into the CARE ecosystem,” Brown said. “The way we’ve designed the FGEN Noles LLC is that this isn’t a ‘one-and-done’ experience for the students. Our staff will continue to check in with them each year until they graduate because we know the value of connection and advocacy for our first-generation students throughout their college experience. Through this LLC, these students are becoming part of a community that will support them to graduation.”

At Florida State, approximately 30 percent of the undergraduate student body are first-generation college students. This significant population often needs additional support and engagement to help increase student success measures, and the FGEN Noles LLC plans to do just that.

“Historically, CARE has supported a limited number of Florida State’s first-generation populations by also emphasizing Pell-eligibility,” Brown said. “This LLC is focused solely on that first-generation identity, so we’re expanding access across this student group.”

During its pilot year, FGEN Noles LLC will serve 64 students who identify as first-generation and first-time-in-college from any major. At scale, FGEN Noles LLC will support 128 students. The FGEN Noles LLC will be co-located for the first year in Bryan Hall with the Academic Exploration and Discovery LLC.

“We have an obligation to provide the support and opportunities for all of our students to thrive,” O’Shea said. “That means we have to invest in the kind of educational experiences that are so powerful in transforming students’ lives and can really make a difference in communities.”

The FGEN Noles LLC is a collaborative sponsorship with the Division of Undergraduate Studies and the Division of Student Affairs. As the academic course partner for the FGEN Noles LLC, the College of Arts and Sciences will provide most of the core courses. Through this agreement, FGEN Noles LLC residents will have three English sections and one History or Ethics section to choose from in addition to the colloquium. As enrollment increases, additional course sections will be added to ensure classes remain small with fewer than 20 students in each section.

The FGEN Noles LLC will be coordinated by a selected faculty director, whose commitment to student success for underrepresented students will be evidenced by their research agenda, teaching philosophy or engagement in professional development related to inclusive teaching.

“CARE is a fantastic, world-renowned program, and we are developing new ways to expand the support CARE offers to more students at the university,” O’Shea said. “The LLC is one step in that direction, and we’re going to roll out more initiatives soon to increase the programming we provide for FSU’s first-generation students.”