Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Live and Learn: More Community Colleges Are Offering Housing to Recruit and Retain Students

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Live and Learn: More Community Colleges Are Offering Housing to Recruit and Retain Students

Article excerpt

As a high school student in Tampa, Fla., Sheena Jackson fell in love with the University of Washington from pictures she saw on the Internet. When she was not accepted, she still wanted to go to the Seattle area for college. She decided to go to a community college --with housing--in that area so she could establish residency in the state and try later to get into the university,.

"It's in a big city," Jackson says. "I needed a change and something that could challenge me that I could look forward to doing. I lived on the East Coast for most of my life. I wanted something new."

So, four days after graduating from high school, Jackson and her parents drove from Tampa to Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, Wash.--just 20 minutes from what Jackson calls her "star in the sky."

Jackson is an environmental science and political science major with a minor in history who wants to become an environmental lawyer.

She is part of a growing trend of young people who choose to go to community colleges with residential facilities as a bridge between living at home and getting an apartment or going to a four-year college. For some, community college is their first choice, and the two- year program fits their career goals. Others enjoy the low-cost housing and transferrable credits while preparing for their next move.

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Community colleges are responding to the requests for housing. In 2000, 225 community colleges offered housing, by 2010 that number grew to 260, according to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). Now in 2012, 391 two-year institutions are providing a place to live, reports the National Center for Education Statistics.

Eliminating the commute

In addition to out-of-state students selecting community colleges with housing, students who commute are seeing dorms as an attractive option. Many community colleges in small towns and rural areas provide residence halls to attract students who live in their region, making it more convenient and affordable to live at school than to commute. In 2010, 116 community colleges in towns offered students housing, compared to 95 schools in rural areas, 43 schools in cities and 6 schools in suburban areas, according to the AACC.

One example of providing dormitories to increase attendance is Yavapai College in Prescott, Ariz. The community college is in a city with a population of 39,843, according to the 2010 Census. The school serves an area covering 8,000 square miles and provides three dorms with space for 375 beds, says Sarah Castro, director of residence life and judicial affairs.

"On-campus housing for our athletic teams is a big draw," Castro says. "Our teams recruit internationally and having housing gives them some place to live."

She added that housing also benefits local residents.

"Our county is pretty widespread," she says. "We have students that are in our county or local area, but it's still geographically far away. It's convenient, so they don't have to commute so far."

Another school that offers housing because of its location is Tompkins Cortland Community College in Dryden, N.Y. It's in a town that is four hours from New York City with a population of 14,435, as reported in the 2010 Census. The school offers seven residence halls with a total of 213 apartment-style units for 816 residents, says Darese Doskal-Scaffido, director of residence life and judicial affairs.

"The residence hails have definitely added to our enrollment and diversified our campus," says Doskal-Scaffido, who recalls that the first residence hall opened on campus in 1999. "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, the residence halls allowed our athletic programs to grow, as they were able to recruit outside of the local area. …

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