Chipola College one of few State Colleges with On-Campus Housing

By: Vanessa Nguyen Email
By: Vanessa Nguyen Email

Marianna - Very few of Florida's state colleges offer on-campus student housing. What you probably didn't know is Chipola College does.

College officials say on-campus housing is a crucial tool for recruiting and retaining students.

Roughly 100 students currently live in Chipola College's dorms.

Softball player Devin Mathews is one of them.

"Everything's within walking distance, buildings, the cafeteria, all the classrooms, I don't have to go waste my time, trying to find a parking spot, I can park here at the dorms, walk to class, be in class within two, three minutes," she says.

Mathews is from Leesburg and says it was difficult adjusting to the area.

She'd never heard of Marianna before accepting her scholarship.

"The previous school I went to was in a big town and it was actual college living of having a university right down the road."

Athletic Director Dr. Dale O'Daniel has worked at Chipola College since 1967.

He says the dorms create a residency program among students.

"A residency program gives you a whole different flavor, you've got people here all the time, for instance, rather than a get-out-of-class-and-go-home type of campus which a lot of community colleges are."

Chipola's dorms were built back in the 1950's before the state passed legislation prohibiting housing on community college campuses.

"We were grandfathered in," says O'Daniel.

In fact, Chipola College and Florida Gateway College in Lake City are the only two state colleges which provide on-campus housing for enrolled students.

Edison State College in Fort Myers will be joining them as they prepare to build a four story, 404 bed residence hall in 2012.

"In the old days, it was a big draw, we drew students from all over the state."

But O'Daniel says there's also a liability factor involved.

"Because you have a cross-section of America living there and it's their home. So all of the issues that are out there in the real world are in a dorm too. But I think the asset greatly outweighs the liabilities from the standpoint of what it means to a comprehensive school."

O'Daniel says they may look into expanding or renovating their dorms in the future.


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