IS DORM LIFE KEY TO ACADEMIC SUCCESS?
Surely college is one of the best years for one’s life, when one starts his first steps towards the independent adult life by living away from home. You are the one who is responsible for yourself, meaning that your parents are not there to help you with your homework, the teachers, the “professors” don’t contact your parents if you don’t come to class or fail in a course. Isn’t it an exciting and a frightening experience? On one side you have to learn to live by yourself, and on the other you have to succeed academically. The dorm life contributes to this exciting experience both socially and academically. Is it valid in real life?
In general one can think that students can achieve academic success by living on campus, but it differs from one person to another.
Interviewing with a number of students from Koç University, there is a strong relation between staying at the dorms in the main campus and on the students’ academic success. By the way, the success in the professional life depends on not only academic achievements, but also social abilities and constructing a wide network. Thus, the importance of social activities, student clubs, and self development cannot be overlooked. They are all part of an academic success.
Interviewees told their own stories
Yağmur Şengezer is a weary English and Comparative Literature senior student double majoring in International Relations. Being on her fourth year at Koc, she had spent her Sophomore year staying at home. She depended on the closeness of her house to the campus but she had to use public transportation and she complained that it took her 1.5-hour with the minibuses travelling all around Istanbul before the final destination. So in order to catch her 8:30 lecture, she had to wake up at 6 am! That was not the only case; she had to go to bed early so that she could get up that early to catch up the 8.30 courses on time. Luckily, in her junior year, she had a room to stay in main campus. Now, she had enough time not only for studying but also for herself. Living her sophomore year like a walking dead, Yağmur is a firm believer in staying at dorms. She is already a hardworker. Her GPA was 3.20, but it raised to 3.50 after living on campus. Because, now she can get much more sleep and she studies more properly by spending 1.5 hour in library everyday rather than spending it for transportation. She says: “It is not a coincidence, you have a lot of free time to devote to yourself and you can easily spend a little bit of that to studying. That’s why when finally I was accepted to the main campus dormitories, I studied 1 hour everyday and my GPA was raised from 3.20 to 3.50.”
Gülce Güleli is a sophomore majoring on Industrial Engineering. Her experience was somewhat different from Yagmur’s. Although she had a room at Koc, she hated having nearly no space of her own, sharing the bathroom so she went back to her parent’s house nearly everyday. The interesting part is that she preserved her relatively high GPA of 3.43 regardless of returning home everyday. She stated that she doesn’t like to spend so much time at school other than attending lectures. Last year she moved to her own house near Koc. Another statement that Gülce made that was very surprising is that now she lived near the campus, she missed more of her morning classes. “When I had to come to school from my parent’s house I forced myself to wake up early to catch my morning classes” she said “but now I live so close to school, I find it harder to wake up at a shorter notice, and end up sacrificing the lecture when I feel too lazy, but still I have more time for studying.”
Finally, Begüm Cömert is a Koc student majoring on international relations , who stayed at the dorms when she was in ELC. Her biggest problem regarding the dormitory life was her roommate. Although her roommate was her best friend from high school they turned out to be very different people and had a lot of conflicts in the room. Begüm stated that she dreaded going to the room not to face her roommate, and sometimes slept at the school’s library even though she didn’t study a single page while she was there. Her disappointment affected her grades and she could pass the ELC course in 1.5 years. Therefore, like Gülce, Begüm chose to move to one of the houses near the campus. She made new friends, and got over her problems she endured in her first year, and as a result she is much more successful in her freshman year with a GPA of 3.10.
Academic research on the topic asserts a high correlation between on campus living and academic success. According to a 2010 study conducted by two economists James Murray and Pedro de Araujo on what impact living on campus has on student performance, they found out that on average, living on campus increases GPA by between one-fifth to one full letter grade. Similarly, Thompson et al, a professor in Colorado University, reported that freshman students who live on campus have higher retention, a greater degree of academic progress, and higher academic performance. Another researcher, Lamont A. Flowers, a professor of educational leadership, found that living in dormitories positively influenced measures of personal and social development skills which are essential for successful academic achievement.
Why students who live on campus may provide better? It would be wrong to link academic success only to constant studying and time planning. The main reason is that they are more likely to benefit from resources provided by the university. Toutkoushian, a professor of higher education in University of Georgia and John Smart, an author of Higher Education, found the evidence that an increase in institutional spending not only leads to improvements in students’ learning but also non-academic resources on campus create an environment that stimulates learning and good study habits. As of Koc University, breathing in the fresh woody air, interacting with so many different people, the ability to wake up only half an hour before the class having one’s sleep out, and the big library with contemporaneous computer and information technology has a big impact on one’s enthusiasm to study. But on the other hand, you can get tired of the school’s dinners, having to encounter people in the majority of your day, sharing spaces like bathrooms, study rooms and kitchens. Nevertheless the benefits of staying at dorms exceed its problems, and it reinforces the ambition to succeed. Don’t forget that it is completely up to you and what kind of a person you are. If you like to be involved in multiple academic and social spheres the college provides, you will probably enjoy living on the beautiful campus, and not lose the precious two or three hours of your day becoming a blob in the Istanbul’s traffic jam. Instead you can have enough time both for studying and for your hobbies. You can go to the gym and take a shower afterwards in between classes, or you can take a walk through the forest breathing the fresh air while listening to your favorite singer, which will motivate you positively.
Istanbul is the most crowded city of Europe, where lots of traffic jam occurs due to crowd, especially during working and rush hours, between 7–9 am and 5–8 pm. If you live at the city center, it is even worse. It takes more than one hour to come to school if you don’t have a car. If you have a car, another problem occurs: Finding a space for parking. Total number of students owning a car exceeds the number of parking spaces in the campus. Thus, it is inevitable to be late or miss the lectures. That is one of the main reasons of why most students are sick and tired of the Istanbul marathone everyday and they apply for dorms in the main campus. Unfortunately, the demand for rooms is more than the campus can handle. On the other hand, the priority for rooms is given to the students coming from different cities. There are many students applying for rooms, but some may not be lucky enough to have a room in the campus. If you are a Koc student and have a room in the campus, you are one of those lucky ones.
You can be successful at Koc, no matter what challenges life throws at your way it is up to you, and staying at the dorms is just a help, an advantage, for you to spend more time on campus, benefit from the facilities provided, interact with more people, which will return as a significant network in the professional life, or relax when performing your hobbies which will return to you as academic success.