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On-campus housing applications increase as housing department competes with off campus

Residence Hall Story, Kenan.
Residence Hall Story, Kenan.

The dorms reopened for the current school year after an uptick in first-year enrollment. The housing department has taken steps this year in order to prevent such a shortage from occurring again. One such step was moving the housing enrollment date up to November.

“We moved our reapplication process from February, March to November to line up more with some of the choices people were making in the off-campus market,” said Allan Blattner, director of Housing and Residential Education.

Prior to the shift in dates, students considering off-campus housing would have to make their decision without knowing all the on-campus options. As of now, applications are up 300 from last year, which Blattner says is at least in part due to the new date.

Rick Bradley, associate director of Housing and Residential Education, said the housing department pays close attention to student feedback on why they choose to live off campus each year.

“There are so many different reasons why a student stays and why a student leaves that it’s been tough. So we’ve focused more on that we know there is an increased desire for privacy,” Bradley said. “We upped the number of single rooms in five buildings, we increased singles by 20 percent of capacity in that building and they sold instantly.”

While the department is making changes to increase enrollment, their current numbers are not disappointing, Bradley said.

“Many schools would be jealous of our first to second year retention. We hover at about 70 percent of first-years that stay with us. The challenge for us is that it’s a highly competitive market and we still need a number of juniors and seniors to stay on campus, and that’s the population that has a plethora of options now.”

It can be difficult for the University to compete with off-campus complexes that are newer, offer more privacy and have more amenities. Blattner said they know the department cannot compete amenity for amenity, but uses the connection to the educational mission of the University as a selling point. They have also taken steps to ensure on-campus living remains a competitive option, such as renovating and re-branding multiple dorms.

The steps taken by the Housing Department have been successful in encouraging students like Amol Garg, a first-year biology major, to stay on campus. He preferred the idea of living in an apartment rather than a dorm, but instead of going off-campus he chose to live in Ram Village.

“I chose to stay in Rams because you not only have more space but also you’d have a full kitchen, room for furniture and just in general it has a homier feel,” Garg said. “I chose to live in Rams opposed to a real apartment because I’d still be on campus and could more easily partake in activities going on.”

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