Muncie, Ind. — A consulting firm is recommending that Ball State University join other Mid-American Conference schools and require its students to live on the Muncie campus during their sophomore year.
Doug Kozma, a consultant with Ann Arbor, Mich.-based SmithGroupJJR, said the idea behind requiring second-year students to live on campus is that it boosts student retention and improves academic performance and graduation rates.
"There is actually a fair amount of literature backing up these performance claims," Kozma told The Star Press.
SmithGroupJJR is Ball State's consultant for the university's master plan — a plan that "pushes you to think 20 years out," said Kay Bales, Ball State's vice president for student affairs.
She said the university has "no imminent plans" to require second-year students to live on campus, but school official will be taking a look at that and other recommendations passed on by the consultant.
Ball State, like Indiana University and Indiana State University, only requires first-year students to live on campus. But other schools, including Butler University, keep students on campus through their junior year.
"Students who live on campus tend to be more connected to school in all ways," said Butler spokesman Marc Allan.
Purdue University does not have an on-campus live-in requirement for any students unless they choose to be in a residential learning community their freshman year. But Purdue associate vice provost Pam Horne said about 95 percent of the school's first-year freshman opt to live in a university residence hall.
A large number of Ball State students choose to remain on campus as sophomores. In the fall of 2013, there were 3,760 freshmen, 1,659 sophomores, 507 juniors and 306 seniors living on campus.
Freshman Tatyana Briscoe said she likes living on campus because it allows her to make more friends and be more involved in campus life. She'll return to a residence hall for her sophomore year.
But Ball State student Katie Simmons said she moved off campus during her sophomore year to save money.
"It costs $8,000 a year to live on campus," said Simmons, who lives with three roommates in a house she is buying.
Kent State University, a MAC school, has documented higher grade point averages among on-campus freshmen than among off-campus freshmen. On-campus freshmen also are more likely to stay enrolled in school.
Similar results have been observed at Miami University, another MAC school, which implemented a sophomore residency requirement in 2009, said spokeswoman Carole Johnson.