Florida college can’t fill new dorms

Community college students can live in a brand-new residence hall at Edison State College in Ft. Myers, Florida. But the $26.3 million Lighthouse Commons is only two-thirds full, reports the News Press. That means the 405-bed complex will lose money this year.

Standard rates are $3,300 per semester, per student for two-bedroom units, or $3,000 for each student living in a four-bedroom unit; all utilities are included.

The complex was 74 percent full at the start of the fall semester, but “several dozen students were evicted for violating dorm policies or non-payment, graduated or left for other reasons,” reports the News Press. At the start of spring semester, the occupancy rate was down to 65 percent.

LightHouse Commons will have a wait list within two years, predicts Russell Watjen, vice president of student affairs.

Security guards keep non-residents from entering the building without an escort, but some residents complain of problems outside the building.

Arthur Magiera, a 19-year-old sophomore from Naples, remains in LightHouse Commons this term, but said drug and alcohol use among other students has been a problem. He also questions strict residence hall policies, like the one governing visitors of the opposite sex.

“I can’t have my girlfriend here past midnight,” he said. “They enforce that but don’t do anything about what’s happening outside the building.”

Late at night, Magiera said groups of intoxicated students congregate outdoors and intimidate residents.

Ten of 28 Florida community and state colleges offer on-campus housing. Many campuses also offer four-year degrees in vocational fields.

Early birds get less sleep, higher grades

Students who avoid early-morning classes get more sleep — and lower grades, concludes a study at St. Lawrence University. The late birds socialize more and drink more than other students. The early birds are a bit sleepier, but earn higher grades.

Teens take risks if college is costly

As community college costs rise, teenagers are more likely to engage in risky behavior such as heavy drinking, abusing drugs, smoking and having sex with multiple partners, concludes a study by Washington State economist Ben Cowan.

Teens see college attendance as an achievable goal if costs are low, Cowan writes in the Economics of Education Review. That expectation seems to influence their behavior.

“Specifically, a $1,000 reduction in tuition and fees at two-year colleges in a youth’s state of residence is associated with a decline in the number of sexual partners the youth had in the past year, the number of days in the past month the youth smoked and the number of days in the past month the youth smoked marijuana.”

Community college costs range from less than $2,000 in seven states to $4,000 to $5,000 in New York and Massachusetts, notes Miller-McCune Online. After controlling for family income and stability, parents’ education and other factors, Cowan found that “teens living in states in which two-year college is relatively inexpensive engage in lower levels of sexual activity, smoking, heavy drinking and marijuana use.”

Education and good health habits tend to go together, starting in adolescence. “Teenagers with brighter college prospects curb their risky behavior in accordance with their expectations,” Cowan writes.

Not surprisingly, community college tuition rates have the largest effect on teens who are unsure about their college plans, the study found.

Developmental reading, writing and math instructors may wonder: If teens modify their behavior in response to college expectations, why don’t they work harder in high school to prepare for community college? Perhaps they don’t know that slacking off in math class is a high-risk behavior for a would-be college graduate.