Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010
RESIDENCE HALL LIFE CHANGES -- AND STAYS THE SAME, SAYS K-STATE HOUSING EXPERT
MANHATTAN -- Life in a college residence hall has changed a lot in the last 20 years while the core elements have stayed the same, according to Kansas State University's Derek Jackson.
Jackson, associate director of administrative services and residence life for K-State housing and dining services, said most of the changes are due to technology.
"Personal computing is essential for students today, so technology and computer support are expected in residence hall rooms now," he said.
Students' expectations for their rooms also have changed. They are bringing more amenities from home now, including televisions, video game players, couches, refrigerators, microwaves, carpet, window dressings and more, Jackson said.
"They bring more belongings because they have more belongings," he said. "The expectations for amenities in rooms are higher."
Jackson said regardless of the escalation in material possessions, it's still a necessary for students to create a study space free of distractions in their residence hall rooms. Acquiring too much stuff can make it difficult to find a quiet place for academics, he said.
More students each year report that they have never had to share a room prior to college, so finding enough space for all of their belongings is one of their first educational moments, Jackson said.
"On day one you will find yourself sitting down with your roommate saying, 'OK, let's do this together,'" he said. "It begins to help them understand that they are going to have to share space as they go through life, whether it's a work environment or family life. They’re going to be negotiating for space all the time."
Good utilitarian clothing is still a must for college students. Although fashions may have changed, Jackson said clothing items like jeans and weather-proof apparel are vital to a college wardrobe. He said it's also important that the clothing be versatile and not take up too much space.
Just as students and their needs have changed, the culture of the residence halls has evolved in the last 20 years. Jackson said today's halls are much more diverse. At K-State, 20 percent of residence hall students are minorities or international students.
"This creates more opportunities for diverse interactions and growth," he said.
Despite the changes, the core elements of the first-year experience are still the same, such as the need for relationship building and the development of good decision-making, Jackson said
"You're still going to go to school," Jackson said. "You still have to learn and engage your mind in a way that's meaningful. You still have to relate to people, communicate with people and make decisions in your life.
"The core elements have stayed the same over time. They manifest themselves differently because of the changes, but they are still the same: Who are you going to fall in love with? What are you going to be when you grow up? How happy are you at the moment?"