From OSU News:
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will revise its First Year Experience program for new students over the next several years in an effort to help students succeed academically and improve retention.
A task force of OSU faculty, staff and students has been working on ways to help students thrive academically and personally during the first year. It concurs with what many national studies have found: The best way to ensure that students return for their sophomore year is to help them “connect” to campus in a meaningful way, said Susie Brubaker-Cole, associate provost for academic success at OSU and co-chair of the task force.
“What we’re seeking is a ‘high-touch’ experience for students during that first year when it becomes critical for them to interact in meaningful ways with other students, with faculty and with campus programs,” Brubaker-Cole said. “A lot of this happens in the classroom, but much of it is an extension of classroom learning that reaches into life on campus and the experiences you have as a member of campus communities.”
As an integral part of OSU’s initiative, first-year students will be required to live on campus for their first academic year beginning fall term of 2013. (my emphasis)
“If you look at top universities in the country in terms of academic success and student retention, almost all of them require students to live on campus their first year,” Brubaker-Cole said. “The learning and community-building that occur in campus residences are focal points of the first-year experience.”
OSU has done well with retention over the past few years, hovering around 82% of students returning for their sophomore year. While that is ahead of peer institutions, there is room for improvement that can be realized by tying together efforts of many parts of the student experience into a cohesive one. Concerns about ample housing offerings and exceptions for some students are addressed:
Tom Scheuermann, director of University Housing and Dining Services at OSU, says his office has assessed its overall on-campus housing capacity and will have adequate space for the live-on-campus requirement. In addition to the International Living-Learning Center that opened last year and houses 320 students, OSU’s on-campus capacity will get a boost from a new residence hall that is in design with a planned opening of fall 2014.
Scheuermann said on-campus capacity this fall (2012) should be about 4,300 spaces, which will grow by another 300 in 2014 with the new hall. And some floors in Finley Hall that will be off-line in the coming academic year, or used for office space, will reopen in fall of 2013.
In recent years, about 80 percent of the new-to-OSU freshmen have lived on campus.
There will be some exceptions granted to the new requirement, OSU officials say, though specifics have yet to be determined.