Designing Student Centers to Bolster Retention
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
In the Fall of 2019, the Washington, D.C. based advocacy group Higher Learning Advocates reported that nationally only 13% of higher education students lived on-campus. For commuters and part-time students, especially, who are physically separated from day to day campus life, access to socialization, support services and student-centered space has become a key component of academic success. We have found that Student Centers that foster a sense of community and belonging are one of the best pathways to reducing attrition and shortening the distance to certificate or degree completion.
The amenities that Student Unions provide are key to attracting a broad range of students, including those that live both on and off-campus. The growing list of facility needs includes one-stop centralized student services, Amazon delivery centers, retail, financial services, flexible event and performance space, IT support, multiple dining options and outdoor plazas with wireless access and charging stations. Campus administrators and students are constantly challenging our creativity to intermingle large indoor spaces with cozy nooks where a small group can huddle for an impromptu study session. In addition, our space utilization analysis services encompass non-academic space booked through campus scheduling systems. These studies lead to the discovery of under-used space that can be repurposed as E-sports, meeting rooms, mentoring centers or maker spaces – the possibilities are limited only by our collective imagination. To see some of the innovative designs we’ve already dreamed up with our clients, check out our Student Life portfolio.