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Okla. schools aim to increase campus housing space.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Increases in enrollment and a growing demand to live on campus have put pressure on campus housing space and options for the fall, officials at some regional colleges and universities said.

Many students are trying to avoid a costly commute or seeking the culture and lifestyle benefits that come from living on campus, university officials said. The growing demand comes at a time of significant enrollment increases for many of Oklahoma's public colleges and universities. Students who choose to live on campus are also being more selective with the types of rooms they request.

Many of today's students want private rooms or apartment-style living rather than traditional residence hall rooms, said John Riggs, dean of students at Oklahoma City University.

Campus housing at Oklahoma City University filled earlier in July. Students are required to live on campus until the age of 21, but Riggs said more students who could live off-campus are choosing to live on campus instead. Housing requests from returning students increased by about 100 this year. Riggs said

Students who live on campus are better-connected and more likely to do well in school, said Josh Overocker, director of housing and dining at the University of Central Oklahoma. About 12 percent of UCO students live on campus. Housing requests for the fall are well ahead of where they were this time last year, but UCO started its registration process six weeks earlier this year, Overocker said. He said having more students is a fun challenge.

"It means we're doing something right, and students and families are finding value in it," he said.

About 50 of the university's 1,700 campus housing spots were recently open. Overocker said availability fluctuates from day to day as students' plans change. The university has some reserve housing available for students if regular housing fills. If spaces are not available, housing officials will work with students to find other arrangements, Overocker said.

Matthew Brown, director of housing and residential life at Oklahoma State University, said he expects an extra 400 undergraduate students to request campus housing this year. He said OSU will not tuna away students.

If necessary, the university can use space that is typically reserved for temporary housing or other purposes. OSU has done major renovations and upgrades to housing buildings during the past eight years, which has helped attract more students, Brown said.

Students at Rogers State University likely didn't get a spot in campus housing for the fall unless they applied by May.

Demand for campus housing has been on the rise since the school changed from a community college to a regional university about 10 years ago, said Tobie Titsworth, vice president for student affairs.

The university has had to turn away close to 200 students a year during recent years. Some students don't even bother to put their name on the waiting list because it gets so long. Titsworth said

Enrollment increases for the fall are creating an even higher demand.

The waiting list recently had 225 students, compared with 171 students in July 2009, said Kyla Short, director of residential life. Housing officials work with students who do not get a spot on campus to find alternative locations, but many off-campus complexes in Claremore are also full, Short said.

The university plans to open another campus housing building with 252 beds in 2011. The new building will nearly double the number of students the university can accommodate but won't allow much room for future growth at a time when enrollment and housing demands are on the rise.

DARLA SLIPKE, THE OKLAHOMAN
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Title Annotation:tracking trends
Author:Slipke, Darla
Publication:Community College Week
Date:Aug 23, 2010
Words:598
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