This fall, Bard College at Simon’s Rock will welcome the largest entering and Upper College (junior and senior) class in its history. Approximately 450 incoming and returning students will arrive by the end of August. While the College fully expected to meet its ambitious entering class goals, the increase of students that sought admission into the Upper College program came as a surprise.
Historically, two-thirds of the College’s graduating sophomore class transferred to other institutions in pursuit of their Bachelors degree. However, after Simon’s Rock enhanced the Upper College experience with signature programs and expanded study options, the number of students pursuing a four year degree at the College was unprecedented.
With 383 beds available on campus, and an anticipated need of 410 beds, Simon’s Rock had to consider off-campus student housing options while it plans for new on-campus dormitories. Like other colleges facing a similar short-term crunch, Bard College at Simon’s Rock leased hotel rooms to accommodate students. Two residence life staff (a resident director and a peer advocate) and approximately 30 students will be housed three miles from campus at the Days Inn hotel. Another five students will reside across the street from the College’s main campus at the Acorn’s Hope Bed and Breakfast.
“The reality is that this situation, while complicated, is not unique to Simon’s Rock. Demand for campus housing is an issue many colleges and universities currently face,” Mary B. Marcy, provost and vice president of the College explained. “These challenges should not overshadow the fact that this is an incredible moment of growth for the College. With all growing, there are growing pains.”
Fordham, UMASS Amherst, Colorado State, and regional neighbor Southern Vermont College have also looked to off campus housing as a way to accommodate their enrollment and retention success while they build new student houses. What colleges may be surprised to find is that students are attracted to the additional services that tend to come with off-campus accommodations. Simon’s Rock students staying at the Days Inn will enjoy access to amenities like weekly laundry service, room cleaning and free cable. Not to mention the location perks that give students immediate access to the town’s center and the convenience of regular transportation to and from the main campus.
“We thought long and hard about short-term housing options,” M. Leslie Davidson, dean of admissions and student affairs, said. “The accommodations needed to be safe, comfortable, and approximate to the campus experience. With these standards in mind, housing students at the Days Inn was a natural choice.”