Rogers State University on-campus housing officially opened Thursday, allowing new and repeating students to begin moving in for the start of the fall semester on Monday.
Currently, the waiting list for both University Village A and B is about 50 students, said RSU Public Relations Director David Hamby.
“Usually every fall semester we fill to capacity. By January, numbers are shaken down and remaining students on the waiting list are able to move in and the process starts back over again,” he said.
New students recently participated in a two-day program called “Hillcamp.” The program held in mid-July, allowed students to spend the night on campus and get a feel for living in the dorms. Returning sophomore, junior and seniors were able to lead activities during the camp while bonding with new students.
“We had a good response to (the camp) this year,” said Hamby. “Studies have shown that students who live on campus, generally perform better than students who live off campus. That’s one of the key factors in (university administrator’s) push to generate more student housing, and as you can tell from our wait list, students want the on-campus housing experience.”
Since the school was first created as a regional university 14 years ago, a substantial amount of growth has occurred in the amount of degrees earned, from 10 bachelor’s degrees in 2002, to 337 awarded at the end of last spring semester.
“Although RSU does still offer associates degrees, the majority of students are looking to obtain a four-year degree,” said Hamby.
This year, the university has decreased slightly in enrollment.
“Right now we’re projecting that enrollment will be about 8 percent lower than last year; however, the class will still be about the fourth largest in school history.”
Hamby said the decrease is due to many different factors, including lack of on-campus housing. At the largest point, there has been 150 students on the waiting list.
“There is a demand in on-campus housing and since we’re not able to accommodate the demand at the moment, students are going elsewhere.”
In an improving economy, RSU seems to be doing well in recruiting traditional 18 to 24-year-old students. However, the non-traditional (older) students are decreasing some.
Rather than going back to school, people seem to be holding jobs longer, he said.
“Those factors plus restrictions on certaiin Pell grants have inhibited student growth. The key take away is still that we are having temendous success with enrollment numbers.”
Hamby said the university operates a 10-year master plan which states fiscal needs for the campus. The last plan was created very early in the school’s transition into a four-year university and every item on the list has been completed, including a new dining has set to open in August 2014.