Kansas State is one of two public universities in Kansas that doesn’t require freshmen to live on campus. Vice president for student life and dean of students Thomas Lane said discussions for requiring freshmen to live on campus were underway pre-pandemic, but the discussions have been tabled as the university tries to de-densify residence halls.
Fort Hays State University, Washburn University, Wichita State University and Pittsburg State University all require freshmen to live on campus. The University of Kansas does not.
“About three years ago, the university engaged in a significant planning process called the Strategic Enrollment Management initiative,” Lane said. “The intent behind that was to increase the number of applicants and enroll students at K-State.”
Part of increasing enrollment requires an increase in retention, Lane said, and living on campus is one way to do that.
Lane said retention of freshmen living on-campus is higher than those living off-campus. The freshmen-to-sophomore retention rate is approximately 87 percent for students living on-campus versus 79.9 percent for those living off-campus.
Reasons for the nearly seven percent increase in retention include a sense of community, programming within the residence halls and academic support, Lane said.
“All of those student success efforts I think point towards the differences that we see in those rates,” Lane said.
When discussions continue, Lane said if freshmen are required to live on campus in the future, there will be exemptions.
“With any residency policy, there’s always exemptions,” Lane said. “Categories for exemption could include age, … your marriage status, students who are parents, students who may be a part of an independent student organization that provides community living. That would be part of this conversation as well.”
Lane added K-State is one of four schools in the Big 12 Conference that doesn’t require freshmen to live on campus.
The three universities Lane previously worked at — Missouri State University, Illinois State University and Minnesota State University Moorhead — required freshmen to live on campus at least one year.