More College Students Opt to Stay on Campus

Article excerpt

Christine Scholl, a sophomore at Seton Hill University, lives on campus because everything she needs is within walking distance.

"I figure it's more convenient to live on campus," said Scholl, a sophomore. "I don't have a car, so it's kind of my only option."

Scholl, of Johnstown, is part of a growing number of students who want to live on campus -- even after they become upperclassmen, according to university housing officials.

"Everything is right there," said Mike Lemasters, Indiana University of Pennsylvania housing director, of one reason for the increase.

Other factors are larger high school graduation numbers in the last few years and universities and colleges accepting more and more students to the point that some of them may be taking in too many, experts said.

New suite-style residence halls, greater security and higher costs to live off campus are other possible factors.

Greensburg officials recently adopted an ordinance that sets requirements for student homes and limits, by distance, their number in some sections of the city. Southwest Greensburg Council is considering creating similar restrictions after an influx of students into that community.

The demand for on-campus housing and the acceptance of more students at Seton Hill forced university officials to convert lounges and other areas into bedrooms, tactics employed by other colleges. It is also housing nearly 50 students at a Hempfield hotel this fall.

Officials at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education said the approximately 3.3 million people who graduated in 2008 from American high schools is a record. But after more than 10 years of steady graduation increases, a slight downward trend is projected annually until about 2015, according to the group.

Housing directors said their institutions were aware of those numbers and began changing accommodations on campus in part because of them.

Shawn Urbine, housing director at California University of Pennsylvania, said universities had to balance current demand with reduced possible need in the near future.

Cal U houses about 1,500 students on campus in suite-style residence halls and 800 in 10 similar, university-operated buildings off campus. Previously, the university had 1,200 students on campus and no university-operated housing off campus. …