Institutions should not employ a one-size-fits-all approach to residence halls. While luxury accommodations have been a popular recruitment tool, they are not necessarily the best setting for underclass students, who benefit from social immersion and connections with their peers.
Community-centric residence halls, rather than luxury ones, are more likely to foster this type of immersion and social experience.
Bowling Green State University has successfully built community-centric residence halls specifically for underclass students. In their 2010 master plan, Bowling Green identified unique residence hall design features that would help increase underclass student retention.
The institution updated their residence hall portfolio by building two new residence halls, significantly renovating a third, and undertaking selecting improvements to others. The new and updated halls have relatively smaller rooms but are also outfitted with attractive lounges, study spaces, and kitchenettes that encourage students to spend time outside of their rooms interacting with their peers. In fact, in the new and updated halls, 30% of space is dedicated to common areas.
With the introduction of the new residence halls, Bowling Green saw a noteworthy increase in retention rates, from 69% in 2012 to 78% in 2015. While other changes also contributed to this rise in retention, campus leaders point to the new residence halls as a critical factor.
Learn more about community-centric residence halls—and 6 more features of tomorrow's campus
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The blind spot in many student success initiatives—and what one school did about it