Almost a decade after the University of South Carolina Beaufort first opened housing for students, the number of students moving in annually has grown more than tenfold.
It made for a busy sight Sunday. For the university's move-in day, about 680 students picked rooms and unpacked boxes, making their new homes at the Hilton Head Gateway Campus in Hardeeville and the Historic Beaufort campus in Beaufort.
That's a big change since 2005, when roughly 65 students moved into the school, according to director of student life Kate Vermilyea.
"Over the course of the last decade, we have been adding things to USCB that have brought us to where we are now," she said. "It's like we have arrived. People want to be here."
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To keep up with students' growing desire to live on campus, USCB has added five housing buildings over the past four years, including the 16-person Grace White House on the Historic Beaufort Campus. Those additions have more than doubled the school's housing capacity, according to director of housing Deonne Whaley.
About 40 percent of USCB's projected enrollment of 1,800 for this school year -- classes begin Thursday -- will live on campus, Whaley said. While a majority are from South Carolina and Georgia, the number of students attending from other states and countries continues to grow, she added.
More than 25 states and a handful of foreign countries -- including Great Britain, Sweden, South Africa and India -- will be represented at USCB this year. That's why the school says continuing to expand its housing options for students is crucial, Vermilyea said.
One freshman from California, who moved in two weeks ago to begin training for the soccer team, said she already feels at home.
"I'm falling in love with this campus. It's so great to be able to live on it," M.J. Orduna said. "Being from out of state, it's really important to have housing to meet people, make friends and bond with everyone."
Whaley said USCB has designed its housing to resemble luxury apartments. There are four-bedroom and two-bathroom units, each with a kitchen, common living area and laundry machines.
All university housing spots are filled, Whaley said, and there's a long waiting list, something that doesn't surprise her.
"They are so excited to be in that environment where they are involved in each other's lives and have that community," she said. "Housing separates it from high school, where you go to class and go home, but this is much more than that, and you truly get that college feel."
A little over half of the students living on campus are new to the school, Whaley said, but the number of upperclassmen wanting to stay on campus continues to grow. For that reason, USCB is exploring adding even more student housing, she said.
Eric Danko, one such upperclassman, has lived on campus since he was a freshman. The senior from Aiken, who is also a resident assistant, said living on campus has made his college experience better.
"The people you meet in your hall play a huge part of your success here because you see them every day," Danko said. "All the activities and student life are on campus, so it's nice to be able to just walk to everything and be more involved."
Follow reporter Sarah Bowman at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.
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- USCB to build new Sand Shark recreation center in Bluffton, November 7, 2013
- USCB offers students experience not possible just 10 years ago, October 4, 2013