The Residential College is a unique four year liberal arts program within LSA. Described as a living-learning community, students in the RC have to fulfill a two year live-in requirement in the RC’s home: East Quad.
Although East Quad is thought of as just another freshman dorm by most, students in the RC, me being one of them, know it as so much more. The presence of this one of a kind program brings classrooms, creative art studios, faculty offices, performance spaces, advising offices and so much more right downstairs from my dorm room.
When I was deciding between colleges at the end of high school, the aspect of the university that made me feel most comfortable about attending a huge public university was the ability to have this small, liberal arts college feel with the resources of the highly respected public university.
Despite being a chemistry major, I was able to find a sense of home during the first week of living in East Quad because of the RC. I remember during welcome week of my freshman year, we received a RC-specific calendar for all the different events we could attend, and I met some of my closest friends at those events. The staff in the Residential College want their students to be involved, happy, and make the most of their college experience. They show that every day.
U of M has a multitude of learning communities, but what makes the RC so unique is that it has its own majors, minors, professors, and classes. One of the most famous aspects of the program is the language. Semi-immersion programs are offered to RC students in Spanish, French, German, Russian, Latin and Japanese. These courses are eight credits and include lunch tables, coffee hours and sometimes class excursions. Last year, my Spanish class went to see a Latin-American music group at the Michigan Theatre. These language classes are the way that RC students often bond in the strongest ways. Although challenging, there is no better way to learn a foreign language in a classroom environment than through the program that the RC has constructed.
Language is not the sole requirement for students in the RC, the first year seminar must be taken through the program as well as an arts practicum and four RC courses that can span seemingly infinite topics. My first year writing course was titled “Lessons Through Deep Time” where we studied geological time and environmental issues. One of my friends took another first year writing course on Representing Islam.
Having East Quad as the RC’s home base allows permanent spaces for artistic expression, such as the RC gallery where there is currently an exhibit by Fulgencio Lazo entitled “Melody of Nostalgia.” The Keene theatre is also in East Quad where the RC Players and others have the opportunity to perform.
The RC also has forums, which are discussion groups around a topic of interest that can be taken for credit. One example is the Eco Forum which takes care of the East Quad Community Garden where flowers and vegetables are planted each year.
Many people do not know that the Residential College exists, let alone what it is, making it a hidden treasure of the university. With the overwhelming size and complexity at the U of M, the Residential College provides a place to feel at home, with all of your identities embraced.