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Freshmen students required to
live 'on campus' next fall

Dec. 16, 2005 -- Beginning this fall 2006, freshmen students at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro will be required to live on campus in one of three residence halls.

“The ASU Residence Life program will undergo an operational change, which will positively impact the freshman class in the fall of 2006 with the expectation to live on campus. This will have a positive effect on the students who enroll with better academic success, not only in the first semester, but during the critical period of their first year,” said Dr. Rick Stripling, vice chancellor for student affairs.

“Studies indicate that living on campus is an important factor to successfully finishing the first year of college. Students are more connected to college life, whether it is with other students or with faculty members. Living on campus and interacting with peers and faculty contributes to the student’s academic, intellectual and cognitive growth. Studies also indicate that students who live on campus have an advantage over commuter students when it comes to grade performance,” said Patrick Dixon, director of residence life.

“We want students to finish that first year and more than anything, we want them to graduate. We just cannot say enough about the importance of interacting with peers and being connected to college life during the first year,” Dixon said.

According to a national ACT (American College Testing) survey, retention trends for 2005 are very poor and are the lowest they’ve been since 1983. The retention trend for freshmen to sophomore in a public four-year university is 66.4 percent. The actual completion of a bachelor’s degree in five years or less in a public four-year university is 39.5 percent.

In addition, the Association of College and University Housing Officers International (ACUHO-I) has documented studies about residence life programs and what is known as the “First Year Experience” among higher education circles, Dixon said.

To help students during the crucial first year, ASU has developed a new program titled the “First Year Residential Experience” or FYRE. FYRE, which includes the new requirement to live on campus, will also include two classes: the “First Year Experience” and a “General Education” class.

“Both of these classes will encourage natural study groups as well as how to excel in academic work outside of the classroom. In FYRE, there are also planned activities, including interaction with ASU faculty and staff -- all in an effort to make the first year a successful one for every single student who enters ASU,” said Dr. Lynita Cooksey, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Three buildings will be dedicated to accommodate the requirement for freshmen to live on campus. University Hall will be for freshmen, women only. Arkansas Hall will be freshmen, men only. Kays Hall will be a co-educational environment.

A new residence hall will open August 2006 in a suite-style arrangement of 840 beds. Each suite will feature private baths, living and kitchenette. Private bedrooms will feature phone, cable TV and internet connectivity.

Students who have 60 credit hours or above, may apply to live in Collegiate Park, an exclusive student apartment complex for juniors and seniors.

Freshmen students who are selected to the Honors Program will reside in building three of the new residence hall.

The requirement for freshmen to live on campus is not new to the region. The University of Tulsa, the University of Central Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville all have varying forms of the requirement, as do many other institutions.
“Adjusting to life on their own is a daunting task for many college freshmen with tests, study skills and expectations. Then, when you add all the environmental barriers such as ‘being away from home,’ the ‘small fish in a big pond,’ and the overwhelming need to succeed socially and academically, it is difficult. Our goal with this program is to balance all those pressures and help students succeed,” said Dixon.

This fall 2005, there were 1,584 freshmen students enrolled, with 730 living on campus.
Anticipating that some freshmen will choose to live at home, exceptions will be granted, but only to those students who live with their parents or guardians, are married and living with their spouse, are Veterans with at least two years of service, are 21 years of age or older or have a medical hardship. Students will be required to apply for an exemption and must provide documentation to support their claim.

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