Prospective students look at much more than just what programs a school has to offer before enrolling. These days, students want to know what kind of life they will be living if they choose to attend the university, which means they are looking closely at on campus and off campus student housing. How has this shift in priorities affected current student housing trends? What can students expect to see in the future? Take a look at the past, present, and future of student housing:
When you think of student housing, visions of concrete walls and flat, uncomfortable beds may come to mind. Students used to have fairly low expectations for student housing, but that’s all changed now. In the past, students expected modest rooms either on or off campus that were available at a low price. Students didn’t have much space, so besides sleeping, they did most of their activities outside of their living area. Dining took place in the campus dining halls, and studying was done in the libraries.
In both on campus and off campus housing, amenities were limited. Students typically had access to basic common rooms with seating areas and televisions, and standard sized pools and fitness rooms.
In the past, off campus apartments were not designed with students in mind, which is why they didn’t have the same atmosphere and amenities that today’s housing options offer.
Today, student housing has become much more luxurious, so prospective students no longer have to dread moving away from home to begin school. In fact, they can look forward to it! Many student housing facilities now offer resort-style amenities, including yoga studios, spacious fitness centers, saunas, basketball courts, tennis courts, and of course, pools with covered cabanas and lounging chairs. Developers have also started to include more places for residents to socialize together, such as on-site coffee shops or snack bars.
What do students want inside their apartments? The majority of college-aged students want large bathrooms, vast study spaces, plenty of storage space, and easy access to a washer and dryer. Today’s students are also more eco-conscious than previous generations, so they will be on the lookout for green features inside their apartments. Think smart home features such as Bluetooth integration and eco-friendly lighting that allow students to reduce their energy usage and still be technologically forward-thinking. Students will also appreciate units with green materials like bamboo, reclaimed wood, and even recycled glass countertops, which have recently made a comeback because of their sustainability and unique look. Even though college students want eco-friendly living spaces, they may not understand what LEED certification is, so promoting a building using this term may not be effective.
Technology is also an important part of today’s student housing. Students need fast and reliable internet access that they can use regardless of where they are in the building. Common areas should also have places to charge smartphones, tablets, and laptops, in case study sessions run longer than expected. Because both students and parents value security, student housing with video screens that show you who is at the front door have also become popular.
Students living off campus want to stay close to school so they don’t have to travel far to go to class. But, there is a limited amount of real estate available near campuses, and as a result, developers have started to build high-rise apartment buildings to accommodate more students in the limited space.
Another trend in off-campus student housing is micro-housing. Instead of having traditional rooms with two beds, dorms will feature one bed, along with a small space to study and prepare food. Students will be able to sleep, study, and eat within their rooms in a micro-housing design, but they will have to venture outside of their space to use the common restroom or lounge in larger living areas. Micro-housing frees up a lot of space so schools can focus on expanding the size of common areas while still giving each student the privacy they need. Common areas will be large enough to have separate places to watch TV, socialize with friends, or meet with a tutor for help with homework.
In fact, common areas will be incredibly important in future student housing designs. Classrooms are becoming more collaborative, which means students are being sent home with group projects and homework assignments that they must work on together. Both on and off campus student housing should have multiple study rooms to accommodate this growing trend.
Some industry experts believe that hybrid projects will be popular for on campus student housing as well. A hybrid project puts student housing and classrooms, student unions, or libraries in the same building. Essentially, students would be able to live and attend class in the same building, which makes student living more convenient.
Student housing developers will choose modern, edgier architectural designs to appeal to the younger market. Luxury will still be a main selling point, as well as sustainability. But, as more developers begin to incorporate luxurious amenities into their designs, new buildings will have to go above and beyond to differentiate themselves from the competition. More unique amenities, such as recording studios or built in retail shops and restaurants, will begin to appear in higher end, off campus student housing.
Of course, developers will have to find a balance between staying competitive by offering desirable amenities and remaining affordable to the average student. Students—or their parents—will pay more in exchange for luxury and security, but they will still be working within a budget.
When designing student housing, it’s important to incorporate elements of the present while also looking towards future trends. This way, you can create a building that will remain appealing to students for years to come.