Both of my daughters lived on campus for 4 years while getting their undergraduate degrees at Stanford and Claremont McKenna College. As their mother, it gave me a sense of security knowing that they’d be on campus with other students and professors completely immersed in college life. Back when they were in college, very few colleges required students to live on campus for all 4 years, but now more colleges are requiring students to live on campus beyond freshman year.
By having all students on campus for 4 years, juniors and seniors mentor the frosh and sophomores. It gives students more opportunities to do research, get involved in campus activities, and well, just be a college student. When student rush to move off campus during their sophomore year, they don’t meet many new students after that. Instead, they socialize with their housemates off campus and they don’t participate in as many campus activities as they would if they were still living on campus.
Besides learning academics, students make important connections by networking with students. When living on campus, students build bigger and stronger connections simply because it’s happening all around them. Colleges that require all students to live on campus give students this opportunity to build their networks and organize events to foster this philosophy.
Indiana Univ Center for Postsecondary Research shows that students who live on campus are more likely to complete their degrees than students who move off campus. Michigan State just announced that they are requiring both freshmen and sophomore students to live on campus. Some students are opposing this mandate stating that they want to be more independent and that it’s less expensive to live with friends off campus. Some even claim that the college is trying to put the burden on students to pay for additional housing and meal plans to make up for their losses caused by the pandemic.
Whatever the reason for keeping students on campus for more than freshman year, I support giving students the time to build those networks, immerse themselves in student activities, and enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live in a utopia of 18-to-22 year old students. They’ll get their independence and live in the “real” world soon enough.