On-campus living linked to higher grades for BYU freshmen

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Unlimited food at the Cannon Center, shared experiences and all-night dorm dance parties are just a few perks of living on-campus freshman year. However, social life is not the only thing BYU freshmen stand to gain by living in on-campus dorms.

Hannah Marchant, an economics major, wrote her senior honor’s thesis on the effects of housing on freshmen students. It took Marchant eight months to collect the data and after analyzing it, she discovered a strong correlation between on-campus housing and a higher grade point average. Her results showed that freshmen who lived on campus earned a GPA that was 0.09 points higher on average than those who lived off campus.

[/media-credit] Freshman student walking at Helaman Halls
“I was surprised at how significant the effects are on students grades and on-campus housing,” Marchant said.

Sydney Walker, a sophomore, with an undeclared major, experienced her freshman year last fall at Helaman Halls and said she had a successful academic year.

“When I was living on-campus, I made sure that I studied a lot,” Walker said. “I went to the library often, and there were some times that I had to give up my social life. It’s all about setting your priorities.”

Alyssa Jensen, a senior, majoring in nursing reflected on her own freshman year experience.

“My freshman year living at Helaman Halls was full of fun and sleeping,” Jensen said. “I’m sort of surprised at the results of this study. It definitely wasn’t my most productive school year.”

Marchant, who lived at Helaman Halls her freshman year, felt like her own freshman year experience mirrored her study.

“I would have felt less connected to my schoolwork and the student body if I hadn’t lived on campus,” Marchant said.

The study also specifically reflects the religious focus and the values at BYU. Professor Jaren Pope, an economics professor, oversaw the study.

“We all know that BYU is a unique place that attracts unique students, and so it is certainly possible that the results would be different at different universities,” Pope said.

To further illustrate BYU’s religious uniqueness, Marchant found the male freshmen were less successful in their schoolwork when compared to their female counterparts because of the “mission factor.”

“The religion aspect definitely affects this study, because most of the male (first-year) students are going to leave on a mission after their first year,” Marchant said. “So, because boys don’t have a long-term commitment ahead of them they are less focused on school.”

The study also reveals that the closer that you live to campus, the closer you are to academic success and higher grades. Marchant’s study declared that student’s living off campus are 1.7 times more likely than on-campus students to fall into the academic warning zone.

Marchant’s senior honor’s thesis was also unique because she is an undergraduate.

[/media-credit] Freshman students at the Cannon Center
“This is a neat accomplishment for her to do something of this magnitude as an undergraduate,” Pope said. “I am just very proud of Hannah and how she pursued this research question and worked hard to gather and analyze the data and contribute to our understanding of this important question.”

Marchant also feels students should follow through with their ideas and realize their significance. With motivation and a drive to succeed, as well as a mind-set to keep up with their ideas to the end, it is possible to achieve great things.

“This is a project that I was really passionate about. Students should see their ideas through to the end,” Marchant said. “I encourage students to look around and see ways that they could pursue their passions.”

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