Seven Top Trends Shaping Student Housing Options
Student Housing Is Changing
Student housing on college campuses has been changing for a while. The arrival of Generation Z (the generation that comes after the Millennials, AKA Gen Z or the iGeneration) is only accelerating the process. The change tends to come first to larger campuses. It then spreads out to smaller ones.
Part of the reason for the change is technological. Members of Gen Z have lived their whole lives with modern technology and mobile devices.
This modern technology has in turn fostered certain interests and expectations. Apps and social media sites have led to discussions of many issues. These include the environment, sustainability, privacy, and lifestyle options. Students emerge from such discussions with diverse needs and desires.
Colleges and universities have to create student housing to meet those needs and desires. That’s how they attract and retain high-caliber students. This means maximizing opportunities for socialization and engagement as well as creating the best possible environment for academic success. We here at Vanities International see the following trends as playing a major role in the ongoing evolution of student housing.
Trend #1: Student Housing: It’s Not a Student Dormitory Anymore
The old-fashioned student dormitory that many of us remember is increasingly a thing of the past. Today’s student housing facility likely consists of college apartments providing such amenities as coffee shops outdoor swimming pools, and in-suite laundry. It resembles an urban mixed-use apartment complex and is walkable and sustainable.
Trend #2: Diverse Student Housing Unit Types
Students with different lifestyles and interests want living spaces that are a good fit for them in particular. To address such wants, institutions may, for example, offer one-to-four bedroom apartments for college students. This not only appeals to young people but also affords the educational institution flexibility as the student population changes over time.
Trend #3: Privacy in Student Housing
Many incoming freshmen have never shared a bedroom, and they sometimes aren’t keen on starting when a dorm pairs them up with a stranger. Thus modern student housing offers varying privacy levels based on how many students share a bedroom and how many share a communal bathroom. The old-fashioned communal bathroom that might serve an entire wing or floor is becoming a rarity. It’s common for newer student housing to offer a suite layout in which only two students share a bathroom. “Spa” bathrooms with private toilets and shower areas are also gaining in popularity.
Trend #4: Live-Learn Communities
Recent research provides evidence that informal settings are better than formal ones for promoting learning at the college level. They foster recruitment and retention, promote academic engagement and success, and improve the undergraduate experience in general.
There are various student-housing models that take advantage of this effect. A mainly residential facility that still provides collaborative areas and easily accessible study amenities. Some universities have even built true mixed-use facilities with housing for both students and faculty and classrooms all in the same building.
Trend #5: Appealing Common Spaces
Common spaces should encourage socialization, establish new friendships and contacts, and by so doing promote retention and college success. They are only likely to do this, though, if students enjoy spending time in them. One part of facilitating such enjoyment is providing comfortable furniture, pool tables, ping-pong tables, maker tables, green screens, and other amenities. Another part is designing the spaces with flexibility in mind so they can accommodate a diversity of activities and events, both scheduled and spontaneous.
Trend #6: Connectivity and Outlets
We already mentioned that Gen Z is the generation that has always been fully immersed on the Internet in all its aspects, but we can’t overemphasize how much modern students value high-speed connectivity throughout the campus environment. They need it to study and work effectively and also to socialize. By the same token, they need plenty of electrical outlets to facilitate their use of electronic devices.
Trend #7: Eco-Friendly
Similarly, today’s students have been hearing about sustainability and climate change all their lives, and many have a strong commitment to addressing the problem. Such students are likely to value such features as low-flow toilets showerheads, LED lighting, green roofs, other green design elements, and even outdoor classrooms, and modern student housing is moving to provide them. In effect, these new developments function as a sustainability learning center.