SC4 students Emily Fleischmann and Giovanni Carden enjoy a walking in downtown Port Huron.
Emily Fleischmann likes to hang out with friends in her dorm's spacious common area, where they cook dinner, watch movies or play games. It's typical college stuff, but these students attend community college, which typically lacks the convenience and bonding experiences that come with student housing.
Last fall, St. Clair County Community College (SC4) became the first community college in Southeast Michigan, and one of only a few throughout the state, to offer student housing. Known as the Dock, the facility is right in the heart of vibrant downtown Port Huron, just a short walk to the college campus.
"Last year I lived in an apartment, but I thought being in the dorm would be a cool way to get involved with the college community and make more friends," says Fleischmann, 21, who is studying sports management and plays on SC4's basketball team. "Now I feel like I know everyone on campus, and everyone is really friendly. This past year I have made lifelong friends."
Emily Fleischmann and Giovanni Carden have made the most of living in SC4's student housing.Freshman Giovonni (“GeeGee”) Carden is taking pre-requisite classes so she can apply for SC4's nursing program next year. While she’s working toward a goal she's had since age 9, she's loving life in the student residence hall.
"I was a little shy at first because I was used to being at home and being taken care of," says the 18-year-old, who grew up in Marysville. "But the dorm got me to be more social. We hang out all the time, help each other with homework and go to events together. I have gotten to know many great people and have learned a lot about different cultures."
SC4's manager of college housing, Nathanial Shrapnell, says The Dock's first year has been going very well.
"This really enhances the college experience," says Shrapnell, who lives in an apartment in the building and is on call for the student residents. "Living in the dorm is probably one of the best decisions you can make to experience how to be an independent adult."
Most students at The Dock share a fully furnished suite-style room, each with its own private bath. The building, a former motel enhanced by more than $2 million in renovations, offers a host of amenities, including free parking, free high-speed internet and Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, a communal kitchen and dining area, and a spacious lounge complete with 75-inch TV, couches and other soft seating, and vending machines.
"It's all brand new and super nice. We like to make dinner, mainly chicken or crockpot stuff, and there is always something going on so you're not just studying 24/7," says Fleischmann, a resident assistant who calls herself "a dorm mom."
Also enhancing the overall college experience for students at SC4 is the recently renovated Fieldhouse, a top-notch athletic Emily Fleischmann and Giovanni Carden have made the most of living in SC4's student housing.facility. Housing students have free access to the cardio and weight equipment, hardwood courts, the elevated track, and locker rooms, as well as admission to Skippers' athletic events at the facility, which is located just a block from The Dock. The Fieldhouse is crowned by a tower that rewards those who climb its 188 steps with sweeping views of Port Huron, the surrounding Blue Water area and our neighbors in Canada, too.
SC4's attractive 29-acre campus and highly respected academic programs cost just a fraction of typical four-year colleges and universities. SC4 has transfer agreements with many of Michigan's institutions of higher learning so graduates can easily go on to earn a four-year degree without losing any credits. And those who live out of district pay in-district tuition by living in the student residence hall, a significant cost savings.
Another unique SC4 offering is the Elevate Meal Plan, which includes a growing number of Port Huron restaurants that provide discounts to participating students, faculty and staff members.
"I love the meal plan," says Fleischmann, who hails from the town of Munger. “There is a lot of diversity, so you're not just eating the same old soup and salad all the time."
Carden says she feels like dorm living has made her an adult. "It has helped me a lot," she says, "and I feel more prepared for the world now."
Numerous research studies show that students who live in residence halls are more likely to stay in school and graduate. Shrapnell says he sees such success stories all the time at The Dock.
"We have people from as close as Port Huron and from as far as Brazil," he says. "Living on your own provides the opportunity for self-growth, whether you are from the Blue Water area or much further away."
The application process for fall 2019 college housing is underway at sc4.edu/housing.