The Housing Debate: Exploring Students' Preferences
By Kiana Colquitt
STATESBORO, Ga. - Aside from choosing a major, finding a place to call home while being away is one of the hardest decisions that students will make in their college career.
Georgia Southern University provides both on and off campus housing options for its students; however, students still find themselves torn between choosing which route to take.
GSU’s Housing Central Office Associate Director of Business and Administration Ryan Heins says that the purpose of University Housing is to teach students GSU core values and principles while providing a safe and comfortable living environment. He says that the GSU housing staff functions as an extended family for students.
“University Housing is essentially a support system for students to turn to as they make that transition from their homes to college,” said Heins. “We want students to really feel as if they are back at home.”
GSU occupancy reports for the 2015-2016 school year indicates that 29 percent of the university’s student population lives on campus. Of that amount, 77 percent of the residents were identified as freshmen.
University Housing, however, is not retaining its residents.
According to occupancy reports, GSU’s University Housing’s retention rate is less than 5 percent. Heins says that there are several reasons as to why students choose to move off campus. He credits cost as being the deciding factor.
“On campus housing can get relatively expensive especially for students who are paying out of pocket,” said Heins. “We’ve received complaints from students about the prices of our residential facilities but unfortunately there’s not much we can do about it.”
Students say that there are other reasons that influenced their decision to move off campus.
Hasiyna Harding, a junior public health major at GSU and a resident of Aspen Heights, said the strict rules enforced by University Housing is what pushed her away from the on campus residential facilities.
“I just felt like I was being watched. I didn’t have much freedom to do whatever I wanted and that bothered me,” said Harding. “I didn’t come to college to be treated as a baby. I’m an adult and I wanted to be treated that way.”
According to Harding, many people choose to stay off campus because of the high cost of living that is associated with living on campus.
“I think I pay a decent rate for my apartment at Aspen Heights ” said Harding. “Aspen Heights is one of the more pricier off campus housing choices but it’s still much cheaper from living on campus.”
Harding admits that there is no sense of community in her neighborhood and she actually doesn’t know her neighbors. Maintenance calls now take forever to complete, as opposed to housing where the calls were taken of almost instantaneously.
Kennedy Hall Community Leader Aja Blair said that students should expect two different things when they apply for on campus and off campus housing. She said students get two different experiences with each type of housing.
“Students definitely get more out of living on campus than they do when they decide to live off campus,” said Blair. “GSU housing will always be there for their residents. You’ll be able to turn to them whenever you need them which is something that typically doesn’t happen when you live in an apartment. “
This information was ontained from Georgia Southern University's Office of Strategic Research and Analysis (graphic created by: Danielle Wardlow).
According to Heins, living on campus is essential to the cultivation of the college experience for all students. It is because of this belief that the university requires freshmen or first year students to live on campus for the duration of their first year at GSU. Heins says that this is to watch over the new students.
“We require freshmen and first year transfer students to live on campus because they need guidance,” said Heins. “College is extremely different from living with your parents and for many students it’s the first time that they’ve actually been separated from their parents. We just want to make sure they are adapting well.”