As times change and the world marches on, our concept of students and their needs too. In the last couple of decades, we’ve seen the rise of the Millennial generation and a profound shift in student culture. As a result, the demands of students have shifted from those of their parents or grandparents to a more 24/7 lifestyle with expectations that buildings, transportation, and especially social spaces be open on weekends and late into the night. As a result, companies have sprung up (like Nelson Partners) to meet this new type of student housing demand.
This change has been most prominently felt on college campuses where large Millennials have taken up residence in their universities’ dormitories.
Some campuses, like the University of Central Florida, are so inundated with Millennial students that there is no room left. As a result, UCF has had to resort to building on-campus luxury apartments for upperclassmen, a new concept that has been met with great success and a near 100% occupancy rate.
The population boom has forced universities to meet the needs of their growing student bodies, but how are these halls of academia adapting? One example is at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Developing “Campus North,” a series of five buildings intended to provide housing for an additional 1,200 students (increasing student capacity by 20%), is expected to begin construction this year and will house 600 students in the Fall of 2014 when it opens.
The new dormitory halls are expected to cost $136 Million and will be “designed to address students’ desire for urban living” by taking advantage of the cities walkability. The idea is that merely providing housing isn’t enough – students want facilities that provide a social atmosphere at all times, not just between 9 AM and 5 PM.
Another example is at Arizona State University. Their first on-campus housing development, The District, is a state-of-the-art student apartment complex that has transformed the way students live and interact with their campus community. For example, the District offers surfing classes, sand volleyball courts, hanging gardens, club sports facilities, an outdoor amphitheater, and more right on campus.
The District is a prime example of how student housing and university life are becoming intertwined. Students want to live and learn at home while attending college, and universities cater to these needs with their complexes to make students’ lives easier. In addition, the next century will be the century of Millennials; this new generation has set out to change the world, and we should expect Universities to be leading this charge.
A final example is at the University of California – Santa Barbara. After a student referendum passed, campus officials are moving forward to build on-campus housing for students. The referendum stated that students wanted as many as 3,100 beds (a 15% increase from current numbers). To accommodate this need, they will be building new dormitories and converting existing ones into housing.
UC Santa Barbara, like many other universities around the country, is also expanding its dining options. Long gone are the days when students would pack an over-stuffed sack lunch each day or grab a bite to eat at one of the very few on-campus cafes. Instead, students want convenience – they want food that’s easy and accessible, which is part of the reason why the new dining hall at UC Santa Barbara will be located next to student housing.