Studies show that students living in residence halls experience greater success than do their off-campus colleagues. But that doesn’t happen by itself. It takes careful planning to create the programs that turn theory into reality.
Residence life professionals have heard the words thousands of times throughout their career: Students who continue to live on campus perform better academically, are better adjusted socially, and are more likely to finish their program and graduate.
It’s a claim that numerous studies have backed up as fact. Steven Herndon’s 1984 study “Recent Findings Concerning the Relative Importance of Housing to Student Retention” spelled out several of the tenets of this philosophy that are still used today: that housing in general is a large contributor to retention, leads to higher amounts of student-faculty contact, and contributes to a greater sense of satisfaction among students. Michael Waldo’s 1986 study “Academic Achievement and Retention as Related to Students’ Personal and Social Adjustment in University Residence Halls” expanded on these conclusions, revealing that students satisfied with the social adjustment and opportunities provided by the residence halls perform better academically and are retained at a higher rate. The results revealed in these studies have endured, receiving affirmation in more recent works such as Yan Li, Mack Sheely, and Donald Whalen’s 2005 study “Contributors to Residence Hall Student Retention: Why Do Students Choose to Leave or Stay?”
It’s well-trod territory to be sure, and if you boil the profession down to its essence, it is to create campus living options that meet these goals. But as confident as residence life professionals can be about these facts, there are some inherent contradictions that must still be confronted.
To find out how EBI and MAP-Works® contributes to the development of successful retention programs, the story continues in the March + April 2012 issue of the Talking Stick, the official magazine of ACUHO-I (the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International).