Barrett Honors College expands 4-year residential experience in Tempe
With its many multicolored buildings and tree-lined spaces, the Vista del Sol Apartments look much like other complexes, but there’s something different going on inside.
The majority of residents are Barrett Honors College students who have formed their own unique living and learning community in this expansion of the college’s Tempe campus.
Barrett has the only four-year residential community at Arizona State University. Growth at Barrett Tempe’s residential experience prompted the college to acquire additional living space at Vista del Sol — located near Apache Boulevard and Rural Road — for the third year in a row.
Barrett started expanding to Vista in fall 2013 with 300 students and then doubled that number in the fall 2014 with approximately 600 students. For the 2015-16 academic year, Barrett Tempe has a total of 3,000 students living on campus. Freshmen and upperclassmen live in the Barrett Tempe complex, which opened in 2009, and a mixture of sophomores, juniors and seniors now live in Barrett at Vista del Sol. Current students enrolled in Barrett at ASU’s four campuses total 6,343.
“At Vista del Sol, we have our existing Barrett community where students can live, study and socialize together while still having the access and amenities of the larger university,” Barrett Dean Mark Jacobs said.
Students at Vista del Sol enjoy apartment-style living in two-bedroom units, each with private bedrooms and bathrooms, a full kitchen, washer and dryer. Residents have access to a pool, gym, basketball and volleyball courts, a game room, and a theater for watching movies or television. Staff and student leaders operate the Barrett Student Engagement Center at Vista, which opened in the fall 2014 just north of the Vista del Sol apartment complex. This multipurpose center is used as a study space, as well as for meetings and events. It also houses the Barrett honors thesis library.
In addition to student residents, Barrett’s presence at Vista includes an assistant director, four community directors, 25 community mentors, and 17 Barrett student workers for this semester.
The Barrett recruiting and admissions staff offices also are now located in the Vista del Sol community center on the east side of the property.
Second-year student Brandon Marks is a Vista del Sol community mentor and enjoys the convenience of the residential community.
“Some of the advantages of Vista are being able to roll out of bed and go to class, not having to drive to campus, being able to have access to the dining hall if necessary and that all facilities around ASU — not just Vista — are at your fingertips,” Marks said.
Marks also noted some of the positive aspects of Vista from the perspective of a community mentor.
“Having the Vista pool as a social amenity is really nice,” Marks said. “So if I wanted to take my residents over to the pool, it’s a few steps away. I also like the fact that the units are much larger. I can host more people and be more casual and open with my residents than I would if I lived in a smaller room. I like hosting my residents, having programs and being able to use every aspect of the Vista facility.”
Claire Loth, a sophomore nutrition and psychology major entering her second year as a Barrett resident, likewise sees advantages in living at Vista del Sol.
“It’s nice to be able to get to your classes and all the amenities of campus quickly as well,” Loth said. “I like the freedom that Vista allows you. I like being able to pick who I live with, and I like being able to have my own space and a living room.
“Vista is still a community,” Loth said. “You’re not off on your own; you aren’t facing the world by yourself. You still have people that you recognize around you, and you have community mentors, which is really nice because they throw floor events. You still have this sense of belonging and you have so many common interests with the people around you — you all go to ASU and you’re all part of the Barrett community.”
It is expected that as the ranks of honors students grows, so too will the Barrett community at Vista del Sol.
“Next year we anticipate we will fill Vista del Sol, which accommodates enough beds for approximately 1,860 residents,” said Kristen Hermann, Barrett’s associate dean of student services. “We have excelled over the past year in setting up an infrastructure at Vista that supports our growing number of residents on this Barrett campus site.”
“Students feel connected to each other but also to the faculty and academic, residential and student engagement staff, all dedicated to the quality of the student experience in Barrett. Service and individual attention are the keystones of our success. We will continue to focus on those, even as the college grows,” she added.