Monday, August 8, 2022

This new program at W&M would require students to live on campus longer

In the fall, a new freshman class at William & Mary will pick out their dorm rooms for the very first time.

But, because of a new school requirement, those freshmen will be picking dorms during their second year as well.

The college is developing “The Sophomore Year Experience” program in order to help students transition into their second year, said Suzanne Clavet, spokeswoman for William & Mary. This new program will be implemented with the class of 2023, which will begin school in the fall.

Currently, the school already runs the “First Year Experience” program for new freshmen. This program is designed to help students transition into the college experience through a number of community programming opportunities and outreach services, according to college’s website.

The college believes extending the program by requiring second-year students to live on campus will help to enhance the overall four-year experience.

“National research and our own [William & Mary] experience affirm that second-year students are a population with particular challenges and needs,” Clavet said. “The program will help us focus greater attention and support on sophomore students as they transition into the second year from a highly structured first-year.”

During the Board of Visitors meeting in February, information on what is commonly known as “the sophomore slump” was presented to provide background on why a need for a more connected experience is necessary for second-year students.

According to the presentation, during campus events, faculty and staff said there was a noticeable difference in the challenges between freshmen and sophomore students. Based on research presented by the college, sophomore challenges can include choosing a major, engagement in the community, and a decrease in access to living-learning communities.

While student residence isn’t the only focus of the new program, Clavet said it will be key in its success.

Part of that is because on-campus residency provides students with a sense of greater participation and inclusion in the college community, which can contribute to higher rates of degree completion, according to information from the presentation.

However, Clavet reiterated the purpose of the Sophomore Year Experience is less about retention and more about providing resources and guidance during the transitional years.

This will not be the first year that sophomores can live on campus, but rather the first year they will be required to.

Previously, new students were only required to live on campus during their first year. All freshmen were required to live on-campus and therefore guaranteed housing but upperclassmen housing was limited, according to the school’s website.

However, in the past six years 75 percent of sophomores choose to live on campus, which means the current residential facilities are already able to manage the additional residential students in the coming years.

Even with such a large number of sophomores voluntarily choosing to live on campus, Clavet said by creating this as a requirement, it will be central to the new program and create success in cross-campus collaborations.

Not all students will have to fall under these requirements. Clavet said the school will consider waiving the residency requirement if a student whose permanent address is within 30 miles of campus wishes to live at home.

The school is still working through the details of how room selection will be managed, but currently the plan is to continue creating blended residence halls of upperclassmen, not to create sophomore-only halls like there are for freshmen. Clavet said this is not a set plan and could be subject to change.

Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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