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The power of student engagement: How on-campus student housing can increase enrollment

Student Housing

The power of student engagement: How on-campus student housing can increase enrollment

Studies have confirmed that students are more likely to graduate when they live on campus, particularly when the on-campus experience encourages student learning and engagement.


By Nathan Woods, AIA, Partner, Education Market Leader, Senior Architect | Design Collaborative | June 5, 2023
The power of student engagement: How on-campus student housing can increase enrollment
Rendering courtesy Design Collaborative

College is an important milestone for many, and choosing the right institution to attend can be a difficult decision. For most, this is their first time living away from home, and student housing can be an important factor in their selection of which college they attend. Once there, countless studies have confirmed that students are more likely to graduate when they live on campus, particularly when the on-campus experience encourages student learning and engagement.

Because of this, colleges and universities are investing in creating housing environments that encourage students to stay and become invested in their institution through safe, supportive, and community-driven spaces that connect with the university’s unique identity. We call these student-first spaces.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways student housing on-campus can encourage students to choose their college or university and find their place to learn and grow:

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1. Creating a Sense of Community – On-campus housing allows for increased convenience of access to resources such as libraries, athletic centers, healthcare facilities, and dining options. Well-designed student housing multiplies this convenience by adding community hubs and nooks for students to relax or study with one another. By providing students with spaces for interaction, they are more likely to stay connected to the school, form relationships and support networks with their peers and participate in campus activities.

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2. Easy Access to Campus Amenities – On-campus housing also provides students with an easy way to access various amenities around campus, such as food courts, fitness centers, art galleries/studios, sports complexes, and academic buildings. This encourages students to take advantage of all that their college or university has to offer, making them more likely to feel strongly connected with their surroundings and see the campus as their home.

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3. Engagement in Campus Life and Academics – Living on campus also allows students to become actively involved with the activities, events, and other areas of campus life. This kind of engagement helps create an environment that encourages students to stay enrolled and become dedicated to their institution, resulting in increased enrollment rates as well as improved retention rates. When students are comfortable and have all of their needs met, they are better able to thrive on their academic journey.

By providing on-campus housing with the focus on student comfort, convenience, and engagement, colleges and universities can successfully increase enrollment by making their campuses more attractive to prospective applicants. Increased enrollment allows them to provide better learning opportunities and resources to create an environment of success for their students.

At the end of the day, providing quality student housing is an important factor when it comes to increasing college/university enrollment. With proper planning and design, affordable on-campus housing can enhance a sense of community and foster student engagement, leading to higher retention rates as well as an increased number of applicants. This is the power of student engagement at its finest.

About the Author
Nathan Woods, AIA, is a Partner, Education Market Leader, and Senior Architect with  Design Collaborative. Woods has been with Design Collaborative for over 9 years. He is a project manager and architect. Nathan is a member of the American Institute of Architects and the United States Green Building Council. Involved in over 150 projects at Design Collaborative, Nathan has had the opportunity to lead several major projects. Some of these projects include the Metro Building Renovation, Auer Arts Center, and Taylor University Film and Media Production Building.

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