Northeast residence halls at 110 percent capacity

August 25, 2018

Northeast Community College has seen a rapid growth of students who want to live on campus since it opened Path Hall.

“We have always had more demand for housing than we have had available,” said Amanda Nipp, vice president of student services.

The first year Path Hall was open, the college residence halls were not at full capacity, but that quickly changed.

“Last year we had more demand than we had housing available,” Nipp said. “We weren’t expecting that to happen quite so quickly after building Path Hall. We were a bit more prepared for that this year and had some more options lined up for students. We are at 110 percent capacity on campus.”

In order to accommodate that excess demand, the college arranged for some students to temporarily stay at Norfolk Lodge and Suites, Nipp said. But college officials say they believe that they will be able to get the few remaining students who are at Norfolk Lodge and Suites onto campus within the next week.

The residence halls at Northeast are built to accommodate 540 students, including Residence Life staff who live on campus.

“That 540 number is what we built the facilities for,” said Kurt Kohler, dean of student life and athletics. “With fire marshal approval, we can actually go to 592. We have a house that has five people in it on the edge of campus, and then we have seven in the hotel right now.”

About 20 percent of students who attend Northeast full time live on campus. The college has 25 student resident assistants (SRA). There is an average of one SRA on each floor in the residence halls.

The residence halls have a ratio of about one SRA per 23 students living on campus at the time. If the residence halls get down to having 540 students on campus, that would make the SRA to student ratio closer to 1-to-20.

Nipp said college officials know from experience that a certain number of students will drop out in the first couple of weeks of classes. That’s why many campuses allow for more than 100 percent occupancy at the start of a semester.

When Northeast did its 10-year plan, they had in that plan the possibility to build another residence hall, also connected to Hawks Point, which is the main dining facility for on-campus students. There is no definite timeline for when that next residence hall will go up.

“To say that we need it sooner than we realized we would is the truth,” Nipp said.

Students who live on campus have been proven to do better, nationwide, academically and they are much more likely to return the following year to continue their schooling. Northeast did its own study to see if its own campus followed that same trend.

The students who live on campus are 76 percent likely to come back the following fall, compared to just 65 percent of students who live off campus. The average GPA of on-campus students is 2.58 on a 4.0 scale, while off-campus students have an average GPA of 2.35.

“Being in charge of Path Hall and the apartments is a little over 200 students,” said Spencer VanBuskirk, one of the college’s student residence assistance. “Building a community with a lot of those students can be a little bit much, but our (SRAs) do a phenomenal job.

“With the GPA, students that live on campus will make a lot of friends that will be taking the same classes as them, and they will work together for those classes to get framework set and do a little bit better job,” he said. “I have done that before. It’s really nice to be able to work with someone instead of having to go alone. Having that person there or the group of people is really beneficial and students have a better chance of doing that living on campus.”

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