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On-Campus Living Convenient, Conducive to Learning

March 24, 2008

When Raymond Gonzales decided to leave home to study 400 miles away at UC Merced, the last thing he wanted to worry about was where he would live.

“I needed to stay somewhere since I’m quite a distance from home,” said the 19-year-old Los Angeles native.

As it turns out, Gonzales didn’t have much to be concerned over since UC Merced has plenty of housing available for students just like him.

And now, students like Gonzales can live on campus even in the summer – so long as they are enrolled in summer session classes. For the first time ever, UC Merced will offer eight-week housing contracts to students who want to take advantage of summer school. Housing officials hope this perk will make summer school more convenient for students and enable them to be even more successful at their studies.

“When you live on campus, everybody around you goes to school,” said Alfred Day, associate director of residence life.

In addition to being surrounded by academics and peers with similar schedules, living on campus has benefits that will prepare residents for university and life after.

UC Merced houses 800 students in its Valley and Sierra Terraces. Tuolumne Hall opened just in time for the fall 2007 semester. Once Mariposa Hall opens in the fall, the community is expected to grow to 1,000.

The university’s themed housing experience is one of the draws for students who choose to live on campus. For instance, the First Year Experience Program is ideal for new students because it offers support in life, academic and social skills to make the transition easier.

“It really focuses on the campus – how to pick your schedule, learning how to navigate the campus,” Day said of the program. “It also teaches students how to get internships and network socially.”

Continuing and transfer students have many options to choose from. The Continuing Student Experience Program prepares them for life after graduation and provides leadership opportunities. Continuing students can also choose to live in the Academic Excellence Hall – where academic achievement is the top priority – or the Green Hall – a haven for environmentally conscious students.

Day said the Academic Excellence Hall is perfect for students with at least a 3.5 grade-point average who would like to participate in programs and activities that promote academic success, research service and leadership. In choosing to live in the Academic Excellence Hall, students also choose to be mentors and role models by assisting others with study skill workshops and tutoring.

The Green Hall brings students together who are dedicated to improving the environment.

“Students can spearhead clean-up activities or invite guest speakers to address any number of environmental issues,” he said.

Green Hall residents also have the opportunity to closely work with representatives from the Sierra Nevada Institute and Yosemite National Park and participate in programs and activities centered around policy and management of natural resources, sustainability and leadership.

Gonzales said he’s definitely living on campus next year. He said he likes being close to his classes and the close-knit feel of the housing community.

“There can be drama among students,” he said of roommates and neighbors. “But it kind of gives you that whole sibling rivalry idea of home.”