The Benefits of Living On-Campus

Why does George Fox University require most students to live on campus? What is the value-added purpose of expecting a traditional undergraduate to live on a college campus? Why is it beneficial to live on campus?

There are different ways of asking this question. Simply put, it asks why a student should live on campus. Further, why does George Fox University have a two-year residency requirement that requires most students to live on campus? What is the value-added purpose of expecting a traditional undergraduate to live on a college campus? Why is it beneficial to live on campus?

Residence Life and many others on this campus strongly believe (and research supports) that there are significant benefits for students who live on campus. These benefits easily link to the educational mission of George Fox University and our desire to promote student success. George Fox's core values are founded on its affirmation that the university provides a Christ-centered place to live, work and receive a strong education. The university believes that the entire George Fox experience is integral for assisting students in their educational and maturation process. Living within campus housing is a key component to the institution’s philosophy of educating students.

Listed below are some of the benefits observed by researchers for those living on campus:[1]

  1. RELATIONAL:   Research indicates that students who live on campus have significantly more social interaction with peers.  This connection with peers is important because, many students will leave a university if they feel disconnected and marginalized from their community.  These relationships also provide a place where students can “unpackage” their academic experiences with their peers
  1. MENTORS:  There is significant more social interaction that an on-campus student has with faculty and administrators.  This connection with faculty permits a student to become more engaged in their area of study; which leads to deepening their interest and focus on their discipline.
  1. SATISFACTION:  On campus residents are more likely to be involved in co-curricular activities and use campus facilities.  As Ernest Boyer observed some years ago, over a hundred hours of a week are spent outside of classes and studying.  Use of facilities and participation in co-curricular events rounds out and augments what is learned in the classroom.  This further reinforces their satisfaction with their university experience.
  1. GRADUATION:  Interestingly, students who live in campus housing consistently persist in their studies and graduate at significantly higher rates than students who have not had this on-campus experience.
  1. SENSE OF SELF: Students living in residence halls show a “higher level of self esteem over time.”  Autonomy and self-directedness also appear to be higher than those who commute from their parents’ home.  If a development of maturity in young adults is a goal of parents and an institution this observation is encouraging.
  1. VALUES: Another interesting observation is that those who live on campus express significantly greater increases in aesthetic, cultural, and intellectual values.  These are the hopes of liberal arts institutions across the country.
  1. SCHOOL PRIDE: A deeper sense of “school pride” is also present that then contributes to a student’s sense of belonging and ownership for their own educational experience. 
  1. CONVENIENCE:  There are also the general convenience issues such as meal preparation, maintenance of buildings, access to study groups, etc.
  1. COST: There are certain circumstances where living off campus seems to be a better financial option.  At times this is the case; however when one adds the cost of internet, laundry, and utilities to the overall cost that margin is diminished or eliminated.  Further the challenge of renting with other roommates become interesting when dynamics of sharing in the payment of bills become an issue.
  1. SAFETY:  While Newberg has a diligent and thorough police department and other emergency services which are very quick and professional, living on campus adds to a student’s actual and perceived safety and security.  Having professional staff that are always training and watching for the safety of students cannot be replicated by the city.  Security, Plant Services and Residence Life personnel are trained in medical response as well as being observant in identifying concerns which arise in terms of safety. 
  1. SUPPORT: At smaller schools like GFU, in moments where a student has a mental and/or physical crisis or even academic concerns the possibilities of for assistance, advocacy and intervention are much higher for those living on campus.
  1. SPIRITUAL GROWTH: In many ways, the most important aspect of the GFU experience has to do with our ethos and mission.  Students who live on campus have much better access to opportunities for prayer, studies, accountability, late night conversations, and formal and informal opportunities to grow spiritually.

Conventional wisdom and intuition would suggest that living on campus should increase student grades.  While academic performance is certainly enhanced and strengthened by living on campus, research is not consistent in demonstrating a positive or negative impact on academic scores.  Studies do not indicate that there is a direct correlation between living in campus housing and the grades a student receives.  Yet the above observations indicate the tremendous value that living on campus can have for a student’s success and education.

We believe that these are significant points as the value of their on-campus living experience is being considered.

[1] Research by Alexander Astin, Gregory Blimling, Ernest Pascarella, Patrick Terenzini, Paula Wilcox, Sandra Winn , Marylynn Fyvie-Gauld expand and all shed further light on these observations.

David M. Johnstone 7/25/2008

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