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The new dorm experience unfolds

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From best friends to roommates

From best friends to roommates: Roommates and bestfriends Anna and Taylor have help from family moving into their new digs.

As the doors of summer begin to close, students are opening a new door full of change and wonder called "the academics". There is much to learn.

As parents depart from their children, students are overcome with the rush of freedom. How are they going to decorate their room? What are their roomates like? This is the beginning of the first dorm room experience, which will continue to unfurl for the next nine months by how their perspective changes.

The dorm rooms, a seemingly good option for freshman to stay in their first year, is now a requirement. Student Residential Living enforces mandatory on campus living for all freshmen.

Those who choose to stay off campus must sign a special form that allows them to still attend Washburn. Residental Living did this in hopes of incorporating a study of students' first year experiences which suggests a promising start to a new way of living.

Freshman year is especially hard. Professors' expectations increase and students are acclimating to a completely new environment. Then there's the issue of getting enough sleep when a roommate stays up until 3 a.m. exuding a cacophony of sounds when there is a 9 a.m. test to be taken the next morning.

So, what does living on campus do for an incoming freshman? According to nss.indiana.edu, academic challenges, learning with peers, experiences with faculty, and having the opportunity to learn about the campus environment are important topics to observe when any student transitions into a college-life setting.

“This is kind of two things: Washburn has data that supports that students who live on campus perform better in the classroom and persist at higher rates than students who live off campus,” Jack Van Dam Resident Life Coordinator said. “And then there is national data that supports that as well. Students who live on campus tend to get involved more. What we want to do here at Washburn is support students.”

There are close to 25-60 students per RA, and this is a large operation to make sure everyone has their own space. The student residential living dorms have increased from 756 to 810 since last year.  Senior Giovan Rodriguez, who majors in exercise and rehab science, and who helped some freshmen move in on moving day, asked this question: Does this put freshmen at a better advantage for success rates by living on campus?

“Partly it does. Because it gives students the opportunity to see what all is on campus itself.” Rodriguez said. “With the opportunity of living on campus, it sounds kind of awful, but you’re forced fed all the events that are going on at Washburn so you have more opportunities to go out. You see more organizations and see different things. There are cons against this because living on campus makes it a little bit more expensive regarding tuition at least.”

Rodriguez believes that the LLC is the best place to live on campus because it hits the middle range in regards to price, and there is more diversity. Giovan says that by living in the LLC there is a mix of everyone. Whereas the Lincoln Hall is primarily for student athletes.

So, what is best for the students? A teacher will instruct freshmen to take course work more seriously, while seniors think back to their first year and wish they took more of the opportunities that were in front of them.

For this idea to intertwine like a grape vine around the young, growing adults, one must consider what is obtainable. How is a person going to grow in the next nine months of their college career? What are the limits of the motivated mind? And can it help a student as they slip deeper into the soil? Living on campus may put first year students at ease knowing that there is still much more in life to learn.

Edited by Jessica Galvin, Jason Morrison

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