A First Year to Write Home About

A Quantitative Study of First Year Housing Environment and First Year University Experience


  • Julia Bilanzola
  • Josina Bouwman
  • Erika Keys
  • Emma Owen
  • Makayla Roth
  • Aisha Syed


The purpose of this quantitative study is to explore the relationship between where a student lives during their first year of university, and their overall first year experience. To determine a positive or negative overall experience from the participants, four distinct variables were analysed. These variables include academic achievement; stress and affect; sense of belonging and involvement; and, social relationships. The theoretical framework used for this study is the social structure and personality (SSP) theory. This social psychological lens is used to analyse and interpret the findings. The data was collected by administering a McMaster University Research Ethics Board (MREB) approved semi-structured, anonymous online survey to McMaster University students (n=100). The sample consisted of 66% on-campus and 34% off-campus participants. Some of our findings suggest a connection between the housing environment and the overall university experience. Academic achievement was found to be the least impactful variable on overall experience for both on and off campus participants, and social relationships were the most significant in terms of first year experience. Overall, the majority of our participants stated that housing environment did have an influence on their first year university experience (whether good or bad) based on the variables studied.






Thesis Papers