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Family housing helps parents continue education

By Annette Porterfield
On February 5, 2010

With the recent economic recession, the number of adults returning to college has increased dramatically. Many of these students are single parents and married couples who are struggling to finish college and find a successful career, and some have found a helping hand by residing in the university's family housing.

Director of Residence Life Dennis Koch attributed the increase in demand for family housing to the economy.

"There's going to be an increase because of the economy," Koch said. "Students are going back to school because of the situation globally and nationally."

Koch also mentioned University President Dan Jones' initiative to reach active veterans in the region.

"Veterans coming back from war have the opportunity to return to college, and by offering family housing, we can provide a place to live for the veterans as well as their families," Koch said.

Associate Director of Residence Life Hayley Jobe stated some of the apartments were reserved for graduate students as well as families.

"We have 100 apartments for families, and 50 for grad students," Jobe said. "There is a mixture of single parents and married couples and many have children."

Jobe commented on the advantage these students have living in family housing.

"It [family housing] economically helps, plus it is close to their classes, which maximizes their time," Jobe said.

Jobe and Koch also mentioned the convenience and safety of a local bus stop for the children living on campus as well as having the university's police department close by.

"The residents can feel safe…the University Police Department has a very quick response time on campus," Jobe said.

Koch also pointed out that students will form a support system when living close to one another.

"They [residents] really do establish a community," Koch said. "There are a lot of non-verbals that occur, the bonding and support the residents feel with their neighbors…there's a lot of opportunity for students who are struggling."

Jobe stated the attractive feature many students see is one bill for living in the apartments. Under the same contract as dormitories and other on-campus apartments, family housing is billed at the beginning of the semester, and financial aid, scholarships and student loans can be used for the balance.

"Our goal is helping students complete their educations, whether it's by assisting them with situations outside the classroom, finances or transportation," Koch said.

Jobe also compared the social environment of family housing to the residence life of other dormitories, mentioning the strong focus on family activities in the monthly events.

"We have resident advisers in family housing that plan programs every month," he said. "Some programs may be stranger awareness, bicycle safety, pumpkin painting…they build a support system in the community."

Koch closed by mentioning the additional advantages for children living on campus, as well as a personal observation of family life on a college campus.

"How cool is it to grow up on a university campus, to have that university energy as a kid," Koch said. Koch continued on by noting something he saw as he walked by a bike rack near the family housing. "There was a ten-speed parked next to a Big Wheel, and I thought, ‘That's a brochure shot', the present and the future, on one campus."

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