An article in the LA Times Tuesday, focused on the new dormitories in Mammoth, to highlight a growing trend for community colleges across the country. Traditionally, community college students do not live on campus, but that is changing, according to the Times article, as more community colleges are building dorms for students.
Here in the Eastern Sierra, the Mammoth Lakes Foundation along with a hefty gift from Mammoth Mountain pioneers Dave and Roma McCoy, built dorms to house 59 students. The idea was to bring in students from out of the area who are interested in the academics offered, but also the lifestyle that few areas outside the Eastern Sierra can provide. It hasnt yet been two full semesters, and already the new dormitories at Cerro Coso in Mammoth have worked out as planned.
Evan Russell with the Mammoth Lakes Foundation says, we knew from day one that this is a destination campus. Russell explained that the dorms, which opened in the fall, worked right out of the blocks, adding that, of course this article didnt hurt anything.
The students that stay in the dorms are almost entirely from outside of the area, explained Deanna Campbell, the Director of the Eastern Sierra Community Colleges. She says that the additional 50 students at Cerro Coso are a direct result of the housing.
Another benefit noted by staff and students is that the students who come from out of the area to study in Mammoth have brought new perspectives to the school. Classrooms are more lively now, she says, which is something nobody anticipated.
For this first year, people who stay in the dorms had to be enrolled as students. Evan Russell explained that the plan next year is to require students who stay in the dormitories to take a full course load of 12 to 15 units.
With the success on this first series of dorms there is more student housing planned in the future. As many as 500 beds could someday be built, but the next phase will be similar to the first. Russell says that the plans for the next phase have already been approved, but with the current economy financing the new buildings is expected to be difficult.
The other benefit of the dorms, according to both Russell and Campbell, more students means that the college can offer more courses.
Registration for the next semester at Cerro Coso starts April 29th. Campbell says that classes have been filling up. She encourages students to sign up as soon as possible.