As you get ready to visit a college campus for the first (or fifth) time, one of the most important things you can check out while you are there is on-campus housing. If you (or your student) hadn’t planned on living on campus the first year, there are a few things you should know. And, if you were planning on making use of on-campus housing, there are some great questions to ask – they may not be what you’re thinking.
So why live On?
- Students who live on campus their first year at college tend to do better academically than those students who live off-campus. At our institution, students who live on campus typically average a half-point higher GPA over the course of their first year at the university than those who live off campus.
- Our on-campus students are also more likely to return to college the next year. The main reason for this is more than likely the proximity of their housing to campus – when you live close to all that’s going on, it’s easier for you to get involved. It’s also easier to get to class when you oversleep!
These are the two most important reasons we encourage students to live on-campus their first year, though there are several others: making friends, getting connected to campus, academic support and resources close to home, and staff to support your transition from high school to college being just a few of these.
Once you make the decision to live on campus, there are a few questions that you’ll have about what that looks like at your institution of choice, but I encourage you to also consider a few of the following questions when you visit with staff at that campus.
- What percentage of your first-year class lives on campus? In other words, who are you or your student going to be living with?
Do you have dedicated facilities for first-year students? For upper class students?
- How do you encourage and support students who live on campus academically?
- What resources do you provide in your halls to promote academics?
- How do you help students engage in campus life? Engagement in campus activities and events is a huge indicator of whether students will stay in college, so it’s important that your residence life program support this.
- How do you assign roommates and why? Many schools allow students to select their own roommates. Others use roommate matching services to do assignments. Still others do assignment based on academic programs or year in school. And some do a combination of some or all of these. The first year at college is an important time for students to be exposed to diversity – both in classes and in their living environment. We know that students are more than likely going to have to work in a diverse workplace, so it is important for them to learn how to engage with diverse populations.
I’m sure you’ll have plenty of other questions to ask the residence life staff at your campus of choice – how big are the rooms? How many people share a bathroom? Who cleans the bathroom (I get this question all the time)? – but I encourage you to consider how living on campus will affect you or your student’s academic success at the institution when looking at all of these factors. Believe it or not, these residence life folks may just have some ideas how to help there!
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