University of North Florida alumni look back on their days in the campus
residence halls with fondness. They recall late nights studying and days filled
with activities and friends. Most alumni can readily recall a specific memory
of UNF that is tied to their experience living, learning and playing on campus.
Their lives at UNF were greatly enhanced by living where they learned.
now, all UNF students will have the opportunity to make memories of their own
as the University enters a new chapter in its history. Students will have a
firm academic foundation and an excellent chance to engage in the campus
in summer 2012, UNF will require all first-time-in-college students to live in
the residence halls and purchase an on-campus meal plan. The Freshman
Experience, as it is being called on campus, will ensure that students get
plugged into a more vibrant campus life, forge relationships with a diverse
group of peers and build a strong academic foundation.
who live and learn together are better connected and achieve more success both
in and out of the classroom,” said Jeff Coker, dean of Undergraduate Studies.
“We have seen it time and time again and know that students who live on campus
and take advantage of the campus at their doorstep get better grades, graduate
and move on to successful careers and lives. We want every student at UNF to
have that opportunity. And the Freshman Year Experience gives it to them.”
research confirms that students living on campus their freshman year have a
better overall experience than their commuting peers. Some of these benefits
include a higher retention rate, higher grade point average, a quicker
adjustment to college life and greater involvement in the campus community.
who lived in a university residence hall during their first semester were 7 to
8 percentage points more likely to graduate than were students who lived off
campus — a result we [the authors of the national study] obtained after
controlling for differences in entering credentials and background
characteristics, including family income. We interpret [these] findings as
suggestive evidence that the individual students benefit from living on campus
and that all students benefit from attending institutions where more students
live on campus,” wrote W.G. Bowen, M.M. Chingos and M.S. McPherson in 2009’s “Crossing
the Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities.”
similar lines, the American Council on Education documented that students who
live on campus have a 10 to 15 percent better chance of doing well in college
than students living off campus. A study by DeAraujo and Murray indicates that
the GPAs of first-year students who lived on campus were, on average, somewhere
between a half and whole point higher than their peers who did not reside on
campus. In addition, DeAraujo and Murray found the academic benefits of living
on campus to be permanent. That is, students who lived on campus at any time
during their collegiate years did better on their cumulative GPAs than student
who had never lived on campus.
“Internally, our data mirrored these national
findings,” said Paul Riel, UNF’s director of Housing. “Once we determined the
positive outcomes from living on campus, the decision was simple and obvious:
first-year students should live on campus.”
students agree with the national and UNF findings. They find once they learn
all there is to know about living on campus, the choice is very easy.
first, I was going to commute from my home in Fleming Island,” said David
Brangaccio, a UNF junior. “But Swoopapalooza, the new student orientation,
changed all that. I decided living on campus was too good an experience to pass
to ensuring the academic and personal success of our students, one of the best
steps UNF can take to ensure that success is to require all students
transitioning from high school to the rigors of higher education to reap the
benefits from living on campus. Even students who are from the greater
Jacksonville area will find living on campus to be wholly different from life
in their own neighborhood. Living a life on campus is not like living in
Southside or Riverside or any of the other myriad communities that make up
Jacksonville. Instead, students, faculty and staff join together to make their
own community based on shared academic and social pursuits.
chose to live on campus for a second year because of how well the halls helped
me adjust to college my first year,” Brangaccio said. “Living on campus helped
me so much with classes and making friends that after a summer of being away, I
could not wait to get back to campus.”
can choose to live and learn together in freshman interest groups that center
around topics of interest. In other instances students enrolled in the same
program will be given the option to live together — Honors students will be
given the opportunity to live with peers in the Honors program. To meet the
varied needs of UNF students, there are several residence halls from which they
can choose. The majority of floor plans are a modified suite-style room with a
private bathroom. Amenities include high-speed wireless Internet, digital
satellite TV, lounge space and laundry rooms, not to mention special
programming to enhance co- and extra-curricular life.
students are also required to purchase a meal plan beginning in summer 2012. In
the fall, students will be able to use their meal plans in the brand new Osprey
Café, UNF’s newest and largest dining facility. Students will be able to eat at
several other locations on campus and be able to choose from a wide variety of
healthy, well-balanced options.
on-campus housing is mandatory for first-year students, there are a number of
circumstances under which the University will approve an exemption from this
requirement. More information about the exemptions can be found at http://www.unf.edu/president/Exemption_from_First_Year_Housing_and_Meal_Plan.aspx. Students must complete the form and provide all
appropriate supporting documentation.
who are unable to purchase a first-year meal plan because of religious or
health reasons may complete the appropriate section of the online mandatory
housing exemption form. Documentation will also be required.
loved living on campus,” said Christine Kegel, a graphic design major from
Tampa. “I met a lot of people, was close to everything and really felt much
more connected to campus in just a short time. I can’t think of a reason why
anyone wouldn’t want to live on campus.”