August 2019

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As students return from summer break, many will be moving into on-campus housing. Living on campus is an important experience for many college students and Minnesota Private Colleges have the largest number of students doing so in Minnesota.

When students imagine the college campus experience, they probably picture this, whether it’s a traditional first-year residence hall or special interest housing. These experiences aren’t just social; they have impacts throughout the student’s life.

At some colleges it is a built-in expectation; Macalester College asks students to spend at least the first two years on campus and many students decide to spend more.

“Campus housing is the hub of a student’s life and the student experience,” said Coco Du, assistant dean for residential life at Macalester. “The resources and engagement opportunities that come out of residential life directly contribute to student retention and overall student success; it’s much more than just providing students a place to live.”

Research shows that living on campus has positive impacts on grade point average and graduation rates. But it’s not just the academic outcomes that are so important; residential housing also creates community and help students connect with each other.

“From a human development perspective, the programming and support we provide offer the student a sense of belonging,” Du said. “When students feel like they belong, the likelihood of them being successful is much higher.”

This sense of belonging and community was something that Lourdes Juarez said was important to her success and happiness in college. Juarez is a senior at Augsburg University and is a resident advisor who supports students who live in the residence halls.

“I’ve lived on campus all four years at Augsburg and I think it’s important to live on campus because of the community,” Juarez said. “There are a lot of student organizations at Augsburg and it’s so much easier to get involved if you live on campus. And getting involved in these organizations has helped me find myself and who I am as a person.”

“A lot of my friends I’ve made have been through residential life,” Juarez said. “Whether it was living in the same dorm or going to some event or programming; it’s the best way of making important friendships.”

Minnesota Private Colleges all have traditional residence halls, the classic option in a building with longer hallways and many students. But there are also more smaller scale buildings that offer special interest housing. This type of on-campus living focuses around a topic like a language or a hobby and students living together share a common interest.

“Integrating learning and living opportunity is the future of residential life,” Du said. “Connecting people with similar interest allows us to provide more impactful programming and support that allows student to learn and grow even more outside of the classroom.”

Minnesota Private Colleges had a dorm capacity of 23,139 in 2017. That compares to 11,885 and 12,237 at Minnesota State and the University of Minnesota.

By Tom Lancaster