By Cecilia Smith
Students in Small Living Units may be less likely to leave Ohio Wesleyan due to increased campus activity and a heightened sense of community, according to members of the SLU community.
Many SLU residents said they would have transferred if they had not been able to be a part of the community.
Senior Erinn Colmenares, a resident of House of Thought (HoT), said she definitely believes SLUs have a higher retention rate within OWU, partly because students who decide to live in SLUs are already less inclined to leave.
“It’s like a commitment,” she said. “We make a series of subconscious agreements during the interview process. It’s like, ‘OK, you seem really interested and we’ll see what you’re like.’ By interviewing and us accepting you, the people we interviewed still have the power to say no. I’d say that happens more than people leaving school when they’re already living in (a) SLU.”
HoT lost one member this year, though not for reasons related to the university itself, according to senior Mikala Back.
Dale Swartzentruber, associate dean for institutional research, said 87.2 percent of last year’s sophomores returned in fall 2012. He also said in an email 93.2 percent of juniors returned as seniors in fall 2012. Overall, the university’s retention rate between the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 academic years was 87.4 percent.
Senior Aubrey Alamshah, who has been an RA at Hayes Hall for the past two years, said most of the upperclassmen she has known who’ve left OWU did so because they either failed out or had difficulty paying tuition. Alamshah said students in SLUs might have an easier time with acadmics at OWU.
“I find that people who join SLUs tend to be more committed and more focused on academics,” she said. “I think the good thing about SLUs is that they force (the students living in them) to be more accountable. I think there’s a sense of responsibility that people in SLUs have that makes them more committed.”
Back said living in HoT gave her a bigger sense of community than she had living in the dorms on campus.
“I lived in the dorms the past three years and it wasn’t horrible but I didn’t know people very well,” Back said. “I never really felt like I identified with my roommates in the way I identify with the people here. And being in the dorms, it’s easier to be a homebody but here there are new people coming in the house every day….If you live with one roommate who’s a great roommate it does a lot for your college experience but if you’re living with 10 good roommates it does even more.”
Colmenares said living in a SLU is like interviewing for a dream job.
“There are the jobs that you’re thinking of seeing how it goes, the jobs you want to leave and the jobs where you know you want to stay,” she said. “Living in a SLU is kind of like the job where you know it’s not like you’re saying you’ll do it but you’re already thinking of leaving. It’s not like working at McDonald’s.”