New residence hall will impact retention
With plans for the new residence hall in the final approval stages, college administration is looking at how it will contribute to retention and recruitment.
One of the main groups that will be affected by the new residence hall is out-of-state students, according to Jim Middleton, Central Oregon Community College president.
“On-campus residence halls are a key mechanism for attracting and keeping out of state students,” Middleton said.
For out-of-state students one of the main attracting factors in the college decision process is the possibility of living on campus, according to Paul Wheeler, director of housing at COCC.
“On-campus housing is something both students and parents look for,” Wheeler said. “When we have a residence hall that we can advertise it helps to attract students who are right out of high school and possibly from out of state.”
Administration projects the new residence hall to help with recruiting all students not only out-of- state, Wheeler said.
“Having the opportunity to live on campus and to meet people who are in a similar situation helps with overall academic success,” Wheeler said. “It is a big selling point.”
There are many selling points for the COCC campus and the residence hall will only add to that, according to Shawna Elsberry, COCC director of retention.
“We have many outdoor recreation opportunities here; this is a place where people want to live,” Elsberry said. “We will then have parents on board with knowing they wouldn’t have to worry about food, housing, and other concerns.”
New residence hall to help with retention
Students who are close to the resources offered on-campus have higher success rates, according to Middleton.
“Students in dormitories have better success and retention rates than those having to commute,” Middleton said.
The projected residence hall will not only help with recruitment but also with retention, Elsberry said.
“The more engagement per student the higher the GPA and therefore the higher the success of the student,” Elsberry said. “There is a whole concept of student engagement where the more students are involved the higher the success rates.”
National surveys show that students who live on-campus are more involved and have higher completion rates, according to Elsberry.
“If students live on campus they will be more likely to go to events on campus and have a more-centered learning environment,” Elsberry said. “If students make connections and feel more at home completion rates go up.”
Retention is a simple concept in relation to on-campus housing, according to Elsberry.
“It really just only builds off of the idea of getting student involved here on the campus and if they live here they have complete access to all of the resources to help them,” Elsberry said.
Summer programs projected to use residence hall
Having a larger up to date residence hall opens up the potential for offering programs for high school students where they could be housed on campus, according to Elsberry.
“If students came as part of a high school camp and really enjoyed their time at COCC then the p
ossibility of them looking at COCC when they are deciding on colleges increases,” Elsberry said.
Currently there would be no place to house students for an all on-campus summer event, according to Elsberry.
“This will open up tremendous possibilities for recruitment especially in the area of recruiting high school students,” Elsberry said.
Projected timeline for the residence hall
The idea of creating an new on-campus residence hall has been one of the top priorities for the task force for over two years and now seemed like the time, according to Wheeler.
“For approximately two years, we’ve been tossing around the idea of a residence hall as a possible project,” Wheeler said. “We did feasibility studies during that time and it just worked out that now seems like the time to start on this project.”
The next step in the process is obtaining approval from the COCC board of directors in January. The project is currently on schedule after approval to break ground in April, 2014, according to Wheeler.
No plans have yet been made as to what will become of Juniper Hall, COCC’s current on-campus residence housing, according to Wheeler.
“I don’t know currently of any ideas being tossed around as far as what will become of the old residence hall,” Wheeler said.