Student housing costs are a major problem. Enter the micro-dorm.

Sleeping pods include a built-in study zone and are about seven feet wide by 12 feet long

The fast-growing "tiny living" trend can be a boon for schools looking to trim budgets and appeal to Millennial students, Jay Brotman and Thomas Carlson-Reddig write for the New England Journal of Higher Education. 

For in-state students at public institutions, the College Board reports, tuition is dwarfed by the other costs of attending college—especially housing.

But new micro-housing projects, which emphasize shared spaces over large dorm rooms, can significantly decrease those costs. For instance, the University of British Columbia in 2019 will unveil its micro-housing project consisting of 70 140-square-foot units. These single apartments will be fully furnished and priced below both traditional on-campus housing and the local rental market.  

Other schools such as the College of Wooster and the College of Charleston already offer these micro-living buildings, which use every square foot of space to maximize the number of student beds—while still complying with housing laws.

Such buildings often feature:

  • Custom-designed sleeping pods;
  • Large, shared social spaces; and
  • Shared amenities, such as kitchenettes and bathrooms.

For instance, the College of Wooster converted an old schoolhouse to nonconventional student housing. Its sleeping pods, which include built-in study zones, are about seven feet wide by 12 feet long and are located toward the center of the building, while shared social spaces are located along the building's exterior walls and windows. 

Millennial students have responded positively to the designs, embracing the shared amenities and large spaces for informal social interaction, Brotman and Carlson-Reddig write.  

Looking to establish partnerships for student housing development?

When considering whether to make the shift to tiny living, Brotman and Carlson-Reddig suggest bearing in mind:

  • The university's commitment to sustainability, energy reduction, and reducing resource consumption;
  • To what extent students are struggling with housing costs;
  • Demand for beds measured against the school's budget; and
  • Available land for new housing construction (Brotman/Carlson-Reddig New England Journal of Higher Education, 10/11).

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