Life in the Residential College at West Ambler Johnston
Curiosity, engagement, belonging
While residential colleges are well established at smaller liberal arts and Ivy League colleges, they have also grown in popularity at public state institutions. The concept of the residential college offers new opportunities for learning engagement at Virginia Tech, which serves the largest fulltime student population in Virginia. The increased interactions with the faculty principal and peers from all academic disciplines and years provides a thriving sense of community that supports academic and civic engagement.
Some aspects of the community are intrinsic to the residential–college environment, such as guest lectures, shared meals, educational seminars, and social events. But the most important traditions will be shaped and maintained by members; the first classes of residents will play a large role in the creation of the community culture.
The residential college will center around the shared values of:
- belonging to a supportive environment where members are responsible to each other,
- curiosity and an interest in lifelong learning, and
- engagement within and outside the community through active participation and service.
The Residential College Philosophy
Know and be known
A residential college is a community of students who share a deep intellectual curiosity. Members actively take part in lectures, discussions, social events, and other collective activities that create a sense of shared tradition around their community.
While many living–learning communities are primarily for freshmen, the residential college model deliberately places freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, and graduate students under the same roof. As a result, returning students play an important mentoring and leadership role. If they choose to, members have the opportunity to stay in the residential college throughout their time at the university, although they may transition to more private room styles as they become senior members of the community.
A residential college reflects all aspects of student learning, touching intellectual life, social life, and contemplative life. In this environment residents have a space where they can govern themselves, in collaboration with faculty and staff members, in a unique academic atmosphere.
The collaborative environment offers many opportunities for formal and informal student leadership, as residents participate in governance of their community and mentorship for peers and younger members. The experiences students get from a residential college help them take learning beyond the classroom and apply it to all aspects of life.
When students graduate from the university and their residential college community, they will have gained more than knowledge in their chosen subject matter; they will possess experience in analytical thinking, creative problem solving, and finding common ground among diverse groups of people.