THE IMPACT OF HOUSING ON THE ACADEMIC SUCCESS OF INTERNATIONAL
STUDENT AT NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY
Growing numbers of international students in the United States have underscored the importance
of discussion concerning suitable accommodation. The aim of this research was to analyze
emerging issues in student housing and to understand the relationship between living conditions
of international students and their academic success. The results showed that, even though the
University believes that on-campus accommodation was better for first and second year students,
the perceptions of more favorable living environment varied depending on their level of study.
As the world is becoming more globalized, the goals and outcomes of education have
changed dramatically. Thus, studying overseas has become a persistent idea among families who
desire to provide a bright future to their children. Having prestigious universities and higher
quality of education, the USA has turned into the number one destination for higher education
for those who are willing to take the advantage of this respected academic environment and the
most spoken language of the business world.
Currently, the US receives more international students than ever. According to the Open
Doors report (2015), 974.926 international students studied at US colleges and universities in 2015.
Though international students have been welcomed by the host country, it is evident that studying
away from their native context has its own challenges and obstacles which influence their
concentration and motivation. Foreign students tend to show similar characteristics, in spite of
different cultural, social, religious, and political backgrounds (Lacia, 2002, p.21). According to
Wu, Garza, and Guzman (2014), “they face obstacles, such as different food, unfamiliar living
circumstances, financial problems, balancing work, studying schedules, learning styles, or any
difficulties related to language, culture, and personal barriers” (p.2). Among many problems they
experience, housing issues are inevitable consequences of living in a foreign environment and it
still remains controversial for those who want to define the ideal living circumstance of
international students. Regarding student housing solely as a problematic aspect of student life
might not be a fair approach. Many studies show that appropriate living conditions contribute
positively to students’ life satisfaction and happiness. Therefore it might be argued that housing
can play an important role in exploring the international students’ experience and success.
This paper aims to investigate if there is a relationship between housing and academic success
by analyzing students’ points of views toward their current accommodation. Moreover, this paper
examines what Northeastern University considers the best way of living for an international
After leaving their parents’ home, students want to express their identity, and their new home is
the best place for them to do so. As Thomsen and Eikemo (2010) state, “there is also a close
connection between housing satisfaction and an experience of home. A home is something more
than the physical building. It is a place that people attach either a positive or negative meaning to”
(p.275). This requires personalization of living environment, and therefore, trends emerge to
reflect their personalized preferences.
On the whole, housing satisfaction relies on many
characteristics of life: such as social and cultural background, economic situation and
expectations (Thomsen & Eikemo, 2010). In other words, in addition to the diverse preference of
housing, physical arrangement has a great influence when it boils down to deciding where to
Living on campus and off campus has its own characteristics that appeal to students. Some
students prefer to live on-campus to access a variety of events, while others prefer to live offcampus for some other reasons. La Roche, Flanigan, and Copeland (2010) claim, “University
Business identified six trends in campus housing: Luxury, privacy, privatization, live and learn,
safety and security, and go green.” (p.46). Those trends have led universities to find an
appropriate solution for student housing and then living-learning environment emerged as a new
approach to meet multiple requirements of collegial environment.
Feeling overwhelmed by the tension between previous expectations and the reality they
encounter impacts students satisfaction, which may result in significant decrease in their academic
performance. According to Macintyre (2003), “there is evidence to show that there is a clear
connection between stable accommodation and relative success in studies” (p. 111). The researcher
suggested that some kind of accommodation is more beneficial to enhance academic success. For
example, the on-campus accommodation provides not only educational resource more
conveniently; it also allows students to engage in student culture more actively. Macintyre (2003)
claimed that some studies indicate students living in hall residence have higher GPAs because they
have better access to reach abundant information. These findings show that being part of learning
environment has positive impact on success for both domestic and international student. Terenzini,
Pascarella and Terenzini (1991) asserted “… living-learning centers are not only a neat idea, they
actually work” (p.178). Residence environment, which referred to as living-learning environment,
stimulates interactions between students and a university. Moreover, the place they live provides a
significant contribution to participation in the host community. In the light of this fact, the more
interactions students have at the place studying and residing, the better outcomes they reach. The
literature suggests that students living on campus are more likely to develop successful
relationships both with their peers and academia. This type of socially and academically enhanced
environment contributes to students’ satisfactory university experience.
In the light of previous research, a face-to-face interview approach was adopted to
collect empirical data. This method was determined the most appropriate because it
concentrates on experiential knowledge to understand in depth the actual nature of
international student accommodation was. Semi-structured interview questions were composed
for both students and housing department professionals. Interviews were conducted at different
student halls and facilities of Northeastern University campus in order to generate more
The majority of the study participants were international students; five of them lived in NU
residence halls, while the other five of them lived in off-campus accommodation. Only one of
the interviewee was an expert who works in NU student housing and residential department as an
assistant manager. While describing and illustrating interviews, pseudonyms were used in order
to ensure confidentiality.
Table 1: Participants
Level of Study
NU Student Housing Department Representative
Findings and Discussion
The decision of where to live depends on current University policies and students’ level of
study. Whereas most of the interviewed respondents had a financial concern, the number one
reason for the preference to live off-campus, some, living in the university housing, did not state
any economic concerns pertaining to accommodation. Specifically, graduate student participants
were more likely to prefer off-campus housing options in order to minimize their cost of living.
This confirms the observation of Franklin Obeng-Odoom (2012), who noted that housing
problem is more than an accommodation issue; it is an economic problem for international
students. It is interesting that all graduate students, living in off-campus, shared rooms prefer to
live with their co-nationals to maintain mutual support and to decrease the effects of culture
shock. When it comes to searching for accommodation, graduate and undergraduate students
have dissimilar approaches. While graduate students generally search via internet, none of
undergraduate students even wondered about whether there was another kind of accommodation.
Furthermore, undergraduate students did not even search for housing because it is mandatory for
freshmen and sophomores at NU to reside on-campus accommodation.
foreign student shared that “I was sent to Spare Hall and I am happy about it.” He also indicated
his high satisfaction with being there because living there allowed him to make new friends and
to learn other cultures. Although NU provides support to students with a database and gives
opportunity to explore various options for off campus housing, most students tend to search
through other sources, and they are not even aware of the existence of this service. A graduate
student noted that he had found his room through Craigslist that had allowed him to search
reasonable, utilities-included options from a variety of choices around the Boston area. Another
graduate student commented that he had been told about the NU housing services during the
orientation week, but most of his friends and he thought that it must have been very expensive
without knowing exact details. Taken together, these results suggest that international students,
in general, share similar beliefs and there may be a common misconception especially among
graduate level international students about university provided housing services.
A variety of perspectives were expressed that the rent, cooking, convenient location close to
the University, personalized living environment were the most common factors when looking for
accommodation. Another notable result that arose was having a kitchen in their accommodation
was a common preference for majority of them, especially students who were living on-campus.
These results are consistent with those of La Roche, Flanigan and Copeland (2010) who
suggested “… luxuries in student housing –kitchens, private bedrooms, private bathrooms, social
spaces and lounge are now expected” (p. 46). The desire of having a kitchen for international
students may be explained by the fact that the high costs of food in the USA and the sense of
having a freedom to reach food instead of waiting the meal times. The NU has an apartmentstyle-accommodation option for students; however, it would be only possible to move there after
their 2nd year for undergraduate students. (Robyn, personal interview, Nov. 18, 2016). What is
surprising is that none of the interviewee indicated any preference except physical conditions,
which may show that students regard housing as a physical place to spend their time.
Contrary to expectations, the students, living off-campus, did not have any specific
complaint. The informants living in residence halls mostly complained about distracting noise
made by peers. One of the interviewee indicated that she was not happy about not enough
interaction with native speakers in order to enhance her speaking skills (Melek, personal
interview, Nov 16, 2016). It was surprising that all students residing on her floor were Chinese.
According to the NU housing department representative, they had received similar complaints
from both American and international students. It can be understood that students living in
apartments are significantly satisfied in terms of the need of personalized living environment
which is compatible with previous findings and the reviewed literature.
Contribution to Academic Success
The comments about the contribution of accommodation to academic success varied among
all participants. All interviewees claimed that their accommodation was better than others due to
their own reasons; but participants, living off-campus, pointed out the high prices of living oncampus accommodation and added that living on-campus would have been more preferable if it
had been more affordable. Four participants, all of them were living off-campus, claimed that
there was no relationship between academic performance and living environment.
interviewee put it:
I can study at home and I can talk with my team members through my phone and I can email my professor. But if I lived in on-campus, I would use library more (Kemal, personal
interview, Nov 16, 2016).
So it can be argued that being away from university or peers for a student in terms of academic
help. Similarly, another participant claimed that just having enough space to study was enough
to be successful no matter where it was (Nuray, personal interview, Nov 15, 2016).
On the other hand, one informant was quite sure that his accommodation, which can be
named living-learning environment, had had a huge contribution to personal development and
academic success as well. He gave an example to support his view:
I know some people when they came here they did not speak with others, but now they are
speaking everybody and more open to people, I found that really interesting, for them, it is
really good learning experience they learn team work, solve problems because a lot of
problems you are going to encounter in future and learning how to solve them here in a
controlled environment is way much better. (Hasan, personal interview, Nov 16, 2016)
His refreshing perspective pointed out another aspect of living in a residence hall. Socializing
with peers as well as managing the issues they faced made them stronger against possible
hardships and gave them an opportunity to become ready for their prospective goals.
According to another undergraduate interviewee, living in a residence hall is not as
beneficial as she assumed. (Leyla, personal interview, Nov 15, 2016) As it can be seen from the
results, only one undergraduate participant strongly believes the positive impact of on-campus
accommodation, but it cannot be suggested that housing has this positive contribution.
Rodyn, from the NU housing department, put forth a similar view to the reviewed
literature in addition to the experiential views. Due to the significant relation between academic
success and on-campus living, suggested by previous research, living on-campus absolutely
beneficial for all students and therefore, a requirement emerged to allow them to get the
advantage of university atmosphere. This requirement policy is implemented differently at all
universities and there is no federal regulation regarding student housing. (Rodyn, personal
interview, Nov 18, 2016) It seems that universities have an autonomy to ensure better conditions
for their students.
The most striking result to emerge from the interviews is that almost all participants
would like to live with their co-nationals or with someone who has similar cultural background.
This outcome is contrary to that of Wu, Garza, and Guzman’s (2014), whose finding was “few
participants started to look for native English speaking roommate in order to improve their English
proficiency” (p. 7). In order to improve their language, the expectation is that a parallel result with
the prior study.
The findings of this research provide insights into international students’ approach toward
the relationship between housing and academic performance. Although a great deal of research
has provided evidence that living conditions have a positive influence on academic success, it is
somewhat surprising that all students living off campus and a small number of on-campus
residents exhibited different experiences. It is difficult to explain this result, but it might be
mostly related to economic concerns that the majority of them expressed implicitly. It can be also
suggested that international students are most likely to regard their accommodation as a place
where to live and to spend their spare time rather than a study place. Because they share similar
beliefs, tendencies and they may have common misconceptions regarding university affiliated
housing. Another possible explanation for this is that psychologically, they may not be able to
see academic advantages or disadvantages of living environment due to having nonacademic
concerns. Limitations of this study were time, the number participants and variables. Variables
such as, background and personality, and a large numbers of participants should be considered
for future studies in order to obtain more accurate evidence.
Lacina, J. G. (2002). Preparing international students for a successful social experience in higher
education, Internationalizing Higher Education: Building Vital Programs on Campuses, 117,
La Roche C.R., Flanigan M.A.,& Copeland, P.K. (2010). Student Housing: Trends, Preferences
and Needs. Contemporary Issues in Education Research, 3,10 ,45-50.
Macintyre C. (2003), New Models of Housing and Their Impact on local Communities, Journal
of Higher Education Policy and Management, 25, 2, 109-118.
Open Doors Report, (2015 November). Retrieved from http://www.iie.org/Who-We-Are/News
Pascarella, E. T., & Terenzini, P. T. (1991). How college affects students: Findings and insights
from twenty years of research. Academe, 78, 4, 46-47.
Thomsen J., & Eikemo T.A. (2010). Aspects of student housing satisfaction: a quantitative study.
Journal of Housing and Built Environment , 273-293.
Wu H., Garza E., & Guzman N. (2015). International Student’s Challenge and Adjustment to
College, Hindawi Publishing Corporation Education Research International,1-9.
Ó Springer 2010
Journal of Business Ethics (2011) 99:565–585
A Stakeholder Identity Orientation
Approach to Corporate Social Performance
in Family Firms
ABSTRACT. Extending the dialogue on corporate
social performance (CSP) as descriptive stakeholder
management (Clarkson, Acad Manage Rev 20:92, 1995),
we examine differences in CSP activity between family
and nonfamily firms. We argue that CSP activity can be
explained by the firm’s identity orientation toward
stakeholders (Brickson, Admin Sci Quart 50:576, 2005;
Acad Manage Rev 32:864, 2007). Specifically, individualistic, relational, or collectivistic identity orientations can
describe a firm’s level of CSP activity toward certain
stakeholders. Family firms, we suggest, adopt a more
relational orientation toward their stakeholders than
nonfamily firms, and thus engage in higher levels of CSP.
Further, we invoke collectivistic identity orientation to
argue that the higher the level of family or founder
involvement within a family firm, the greater the level of
CSP toward specific stakeholders. Using social performance rating data from 1991 to 2005, we find that family
and nonfamily firms demonstrate notable differences in
terms of social initiatives and social concerns. We also find
that the level of family and founder involvement is related
to the type and frequency of a family firm’s social initiatives and social concerns.
KEY WORDS: corporate social performance, family
firms, stakeholder theory
Family firms – companies in which members of a
family exert significant influence through controlling
ownership and/or management – are unique as a
result of family member involvement in decisions ...
Purchase answer to see full attachment