With fall term already well underway, new students are adapting to life on campus amid strenuous new classes and extracurricular activities. This year, an even larger amount than usual are adjusting; a predicted 90 percent of freshmen are living on campus, in comparison to last year’s 80 percent.
The increase is due to last year’s decision to require all freshmen, except those living within 30 miles of the campus, to live in the dorms.
This decision was a multi-year process made by a collection of people, including vice provosts, presidents, partners from undergraduate research and students.
The university cited that better academic excellence was associated with freshmen living on campus for their first year, according to the Director of Marketing and Communication, Leah Andrews.
“Students who live on campus for their first year were more likely to graduate. They were more likely to graduate faster and they were more likely to have a higher GPA,” said Andrews. “The entire goal of the university is to not only enroll students, but to have students succeed and graduate. If you can do something that’ll move the needle, it just doesn’t make sense not to do it.”
In a UO study taking place from 2006 to 2014, students who lived on campus their first year were found to have a 0.13 higher GPA on average than students who did not. Retention rate for students’ second year also increased by 5 percent.
Living on campus can come with a variety of resources that may be harder to access if a student doesn’t. Libraries can be a longer walk away, and students can be less involved in workshops and other activities that take place in residential halls.
“I know from living off campus this year that last year I went to the EMU a lot, and to the library about the tutoring,” said sophomore Heather Cooley. “Once I leave campus, I don’t really come back.”
For Cooley, who lived in Walton North last school year but now lives in Ducks Village, it’s harder to benefit from those resources.
There are still some some concerns about the financial strain that comes with on campus living.
For some students, the extra cost is worth it. But the opportunity to gain experience and community is a great incentive, according to freshman Natalie Rocha, who lives in Hamilton.
“Although I know it costs a lot to live here, I’ve just gained so much out of it that it feels worth the money,” Rocha said.
But for others, the requirement raises some complications.
“I have to pay around $16,000 a year just for room and board,” said freshman Alec Sapolin, who lives in Earl. “It’s ridiculously expensive, especially for those like me that are from out of state.”
Room and board plans at the University of Oregon can cost anywhere from $11,000 to $20,879, depending on room types and meal plans. The estimated cost of living off campus is $9,836, according to the university’s financial aid website.
“As far as building relationships, I think [living on campus freshman year] would be a good idea,” said sophomore Demetrius Wallace.
Wallace did not live in the residential halls for his freshman year, instead residing in the Evans Scholarship House.
“But in terms of [finances], they kind of are screwing you over,” Wallace said.
While this policy will likely not change, the university notes that students are welcome to submit room change request forms. Those request forms will be processed starting in week three.
Whether the statistical improvement in academics will be substantial enough to outweigh the potential costs for students is yet to be verified. Visible results will not begin to be seen until the end of the 2017-2018 school year, according to Andrews.
In the meantime, opinions are mixed about the live-on requirement, but many students feel that the loss of choice is frustrating, regardless of their personal feelings on the matter.
“I feel it should be up to every student, because everyone has a different look at staying on campus.” Rocha said.
Follow Kylie Storm on Twitter: @kmstorm99