Dan Butsko knew somebody had to pull holiday duty, and because he lives halfway across the country, he thought he might as well be the one.
Butsko, 21, of Dallas, Texas, will spend Christmas on Temple University's main campus, where he is a senior advertising and Spanish major and resident adviser in the 1940 building, a university dorm that remains open through semester break.
"It's not really a huge holiday for my family," he said. "I don't mind it."
A growing number of students have been opting to stay on campus during the holidays in recent years, Temple officials say. The university estimates about 500 students will remain for at least some portion of the winter break, which began Dec. 14 and ends Jan. 20.
That includes the period from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1, when the campus is officially closed. Only a skeletal staff, including security, is on duty at that time, said Michael Scales, associate vice president for student affairs.
Many of the students who stay are from other countries, Scales said, and use the time to sightsee and visit friends and extended family in the United States.
Weiqi Liu, a senior accounting major from China who lives in an off-campus apartment, will job hunt, help a Wharton professor with a marketing project, and get a jump start on next semester's studies.
She knows a student who already had an accounting class she will take in the spring.
"I'm going to rent his book," she said.
But she plans to take time off to go to New York on New Year's Eve - for the second time. Two years ago, she saw Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber in concert there: "It was fabulous." Next month, she'll visit San Francisco.
Some students, like Butsko, stay behind to work, Scales said.
Angel Gibbs, 22, a sophomore criminal-justice major from Philadelphia, has a job at the university tech center, which will reopen Jan. 2. In the meantime, she said, she will enjoy the solitude as the sole resident on her dorm floor.
"Staying on campus is the best option for me," she said, noting that she will visit her aunt's house for Christmas. "Family life can get crowded."
Around the region, other colleges also host students over break.
At Bryn Mawr College, 211 students are staying for some part of the break, including 50 international students who intend to remain for all of it, said spokesman Matt Gray. The college's residential life and international student offices coordinate activities for the students.
"They put together a holiday dinner on Christmas Eve and a movie and pizza party on New Year's Eve," he said. "Throughout the break, there are things like karaoke and game nights, trips to the King of Prussia mall," and other events.
At Drexel University, more than 1,100 students, including about 350 international students, are registered to remain in campus housing over break, said Rita LaRue, senior associate vice president for business services.
More than 400 of the students are upperclassmen, who may be completing jobs through the university's co-op program, which allows students to graduate with paid professional experience, she said.
"Drexel's co-op schedules run fall/winter and spring/summer, so many of our students are in professional positions and they work the schedule of the company," LaRue said.
Drexel's retail dining locations and local merchants offer food options for students, she said.
"One of the great things about being an urban university in the heart of a city like Philadelphia is that there are many things for the students to do any day of the year," she said.
Not all colleges host students over holiday break. Swarthmore and Haverford are closed, officials said.
At Temple, Butsko plans to have Christmas dinner with other resident advisers. He said he'll also catch up on the television show Parks and Recreation, which he just started watching online.
And come Thursday, it's off to Dallas. He's only working the first shift of holiday break.