Campus housing has traditionally been seen as a privilege reserved for students of four-year colleges and universities. However, as the demand for affordable postsecondary education continues to rise, so does the availability of campus housing on community college campuses nationwide. While the number of community colleges offering on-campus living is still relatively small, the number is steadily growing. Why the sudden interest in dorm living from community college students? There appear to be many reasons for this rising trend.
The Demand for On-Campus Housing
A recent report from Community College Week highlights the increasing demand for on-campus housing many community colleges are now facing. According to the report, around 80 community colleges currently offer residence halls or dormitories, which is a relatively small percentage of the more than 1,200 community colleges across the country. However, more schools are announcing plans for building housing on campus, as community colleges are working to increase their presence as a viable postsecondary alternative to more expensive four-year schools.
Many community colleges are now recruiting student athletes and boasting specialized programs that draw students from outside their immediate area. Without the ability to commute, these students are now on the hunt for affordable housing around the community college campus. On-campus dormitories and apartments have become the best solution for many schools today. As other schools see the popularity of campus housing, they are also implementing plans to construct their own housing to remain competitive in the community college market.
An increase in international students at community colleges is also driving the need for campus housing in some areas. Diverse Education reports that during the 2011-2012 school year, nearly 88,000 students from other countries attended community colleges in the United States. Many of those students were athletes recruited by the school, while others were attracted to a specific degree program offered by the school. Edmunds Community College in Washington boasts a student population that represents anywhere from 50 to 70 countries, with more than 1,200 international students on their enrollment roster. The school opened its first campus dormitory in 1995.
Energizing Campus Life
When students begin living on a community college campus, the school experiences new energy, according to long-time president of New York’s Duchess Community College D. David Conklin. The school’s first campus dormitory, Conklin Hall, was named for the president. Conklin Hall opened in at the beginning of the current school year, and offers space for 465 students in its four-story facility.
“There is much more activity in the evening,” Conklin told Community College Week as he described the campus changes the housing has introduced. “There are more students using student services than ever before. There is more interest in clubs and activities. It really has energized the entire campus.”
Other community college officials agree that campus housing brings a whole new dimension to the experience at their schools. Darese Doskal-Scaffido, director of residence life at Tompkins Cortland Community College in New York, agrees that there are far-reaching benefits of including campus housing to the community college experience.
“The residence halls have definitely added to our enrollment and diversified our campus,” Doskal-Scaffido told Diverse Education. “We have a global program, which draws students from all over the world, and we have a substantial population from New York City and surrounding areas. Additionally, our residence programs allowed our athletic programs to grow, as they were able to recruit outside of the local area.”
New York Stretching Campus Housing Opportunities
While on-campus housing is cropping up at community colleges across the country, the trend is especially prevalent in New York. Around half of all the community colleges in this state now offer some type of campus housing and the demand continues to grow. The Business Review reports that the addition of housing has increased enrollment at some New York schools, as the campuses can now attract more students from outlying areas of New York and surrounding states.
Schenectady County Community College reports a 1.5 percent enrollment increase this year that can be directly attributed to the recent addition of a 264-bed assortment of suites on the college campus. SUNY Adirondack also has student housing under construction, which has already helped the school draw students from outlying areas. Fulton-Montgomery Community College is currently building its second dormitory on campus in an effort to meet student demand for convenient campus housing.
Community College in Keys offers Waterfront Living
For students on the hunt for a community college with campus housing, Florida Keys Community College may be one to consider. According to Community College Week, this school offers Lagoon Landing, a waterfront dormitory that features suite-style living for students of the school. Suites are fully furnished and include a fully equipped kitchenette, free wi-fi and security features. The school built the residential hall to accommodate students that were coming from 100 miles away to take advantage of the college’s unique aquatic and marine programs.
The president of Florida Keys Community College, Jonathan Gueverra, told Community College Week that the benefits of the campus housing extend beyond the practical advantages of avoiding a long commute. He believes students can better utilize the many services and activities available on the campus when they are present 24/7.
“From a general perspective, I think community colleges should have residence halls,” Gueverra said. “If you look at the top liberal arts colleges, they all have their students 24/7. There are so many things that you can do to get them to that place where you want them to go, which is graduation. The dorm is part of academic life.”