Students in the Rankin College of Business now have even more opportunity to apply what they are learning to experiences outside the classroom. The RCBiz Living Learning Community, launched this year, was designed with students in mind and uses co-curricular opportunities to increase student engagement and retention.
“We knew that a well-designed program could enhance the college experience of RCB students living on campus,” said Allison Vatzlavick, Academic Advisor.
Vatzlavick, who has experience working with living-learning communities, worked closely with Dr. Sronce and the Southern Arkansas University housing department to develop RCBiz.
“Dr. Sronce values the experience students in the Rankin College of Business have beyond the classroom,” Vatzlavick said. “Our ultimate goal is to increase RCB student engagement and retention by getting them more involved in co-curricular opportunities.”
Each Living-Learning Community is different, most are organized around either an academic program or a shared interest, Vatzlavick said.
“Living Learning Communities give students a chance to interact with their peers and faculty/staff in experiences that complement their classroom experience,” Vatzlavick said. “Students have access to special events and programs… and highly involved students can also practice their time management skills, interpersonal communication, leadership, group development, and problem-solving skills as they come up with their own activities and programs.”
In its pilot year, RCBiz has 14 members living in SAU’s University Hall. So far, the Community has hosted a kick-off cookout with most of the RCB faculty in attendance.
They have also hosted a personality inventory and a career exploration workshop with a small group of RCBiz members, an internship workshop, on-site academic advising, and have plans for a mixer with the Advisory Board, as well as community service and travel opportunities, Vatzlavick said.
“Promoting the sense of belonging students get from living in a community of like-minded others is one more way we can help make SAU feel like home for students,” Vatzlavick said. “Active participants in the community will be able to practice their interpersonal communication and leadership skills while benefiting from the emotional and social support of their peers.”
She would like to see the sense of community continue to grow between its current participants and expects continued growth for the program.
“Involved students will likely remain a part of the community year after year, and interest in the program should increase as more students want to participate,” said Vatzlavick. “I would love to see the program grow to the point where we need more than one floor in University Hall to accommodate our students.”
A successful program can serve as a recruitment tool for Southern Arkansas University, and Vatzlavick hopes RCBiz continues to grow and provide new and exciting opportunities for students.