In the past two decades, there has been an effort made by colleges and universities to spend large figures on new facilities and amenities in order to market themselves and draw in prospective students. As competition in the market increases, perks that may seem lavish can, in fact, be worthwhile investments that are simply a response to consumer demand. For better or worse, students today care deeply about all aspects of their college experience, and this includes the look, feel, and features of the campus itself.
If you are a university administrator, you would likely hope that the main reason a prospective student chose to attend your university was the world-class education your institution provides. While a school’s name recognition and academic reputation may pique their interest, the most significant selling point for many young people is the campus; i.e., the views, the dorms, the facilities, classrooms, amenities, and visual appeal. While academic purists might bemoan this fact, these days it’s important to update a college campus to help attract new students and keep existing students satisfied.
Below, we will discuss some of the ways to improve college campuses.
8 Ways to Improve College Campuses
In truth, some colleges with deep pockets go overboard with their perks, spending extravagantly on constructing excessive amenities. However, there is a fine line between building a lazy river and investing in campus facility upgrades. While such a distinction should be left up to the administrators and board member’s discretion, keep in mind that a hefty price tag does not necessarily imply waste or excess. As you will soon see, there are a variety of expensive but worthwhile investments you can make to a college campus that benefits the student population’s academic, emotional, and social development.
Turn the Gym into a Rec Center
If you want to improve your college campus, one place that often goes overlooked is the gym.
Thanks to education, social media, and the internet, Generation Z is much more in tune with the benefits of regular exercise and healthy living. As a result, many want a college campus that has a modern-day exercise facility, which provides a host of features and services. In the past, a gym was most commonly a drab basement building that contained weights, weight machines, and cardio machines. These days, recreational facilities can encompass a whole lot more than just the weight room.
If you want to improve the gym itself consider adding:
- Training zones
- Plyometrics areas
- Sled training
- Incline training
- Rooms for classes such as:
- Martial arts
- Lap pools
- Basketball courts
Most modern rec facilities have sought to revolutionize the gym by not just focusing on physical health, but mental and social health as well. To that end, many rec centers have social spaces where students can hang out, interact, and socialize. They also regularly contain health services, student counseling services, and a wellness center. By combining various service opportunities in one place, a university can demonstrate that they care about their student’s mental and physical well-being.
Keep the Campus Grounds Clean!
If you’ve ever been to Disney, you have likely noticed how spotless the place is when it comes to trash, litter, or spills. Even though thousands upon thousands of people pass through the park every day, Disney’s demand that his park is “show ready” at any time has remained in effect. As a result, both custodians and park employees make a concerted effort to keep the park clean and “show ready” for its guests. This pride that Walt took in his park passed down to his employees, and together, they sought to keep the park beautiful so that everyone could have a magical experience.
If you want to improve your campus, it is critical that you and the rest of the university employees exhibit similar care for your campus. If the landscape architecture and grounds are overgrown or the buildings are in disrepair, dated or dirty, both current and prospective students will not only take notice of it but likely not care if they add to the mess that is already there. Keeping your campus clean will not only benefit the students but also help to improve employee satisfaction since an organized work environment is one of the most important factors when considering employee happiness.
Improve the Mail Room with Parcel Lockers
Although students may not be receiving letters as often as they might have in the past, there are still a variety of things they will regularly receive including bills, checks, mail, magazines, care packages, or online purchases. Further, college students account for a significant portion of all online shopping done worldwide, which results in hundreds, if not thousands of packages that will have to be sent to the campus for pickup. For students living on campus, this continuing deluge of mail can make picking up their deliveries from their out-of-date mailroom a massive pain. This is due to understaffing, inefficient retrieval methods, and limited pickup hours, all of which leads to long lines and wait times. Making small updates to your University’s Mail Services can have a big impact on student satisfaction and help to improve efficiencies.
By updating your mail system with smart parcel lockers like those made by Parcel Pending, you can:
- Cut University Mailroom Operational Costs
- Reduce package liability
- Integrate with university mail tracking
- Cut mailroom processing time
- Slash unnecessary mail staff
- Improve student satisfaction
- Packages are easy to retrieve and can be picked up at any time
- Lockers can be refrigerated for packages that are temperature sensitive whether for food, drinks, or medicine
- Increase flexibility
- Can fit a wide array of packages
- Custom colors and wraps that can match your University colors
- Indoor and outdoor lockers are available
Truth be told, students do not want to be forced to park on one side of the campus and then traverse to the other, lugging all of their books with them. Parking or a lack thereof is one of the most common complaints made by students at any given university. While many universities seek to remedy this by simply banning underclassmen living on campus from bringing a car to school, if you have the space and the funds, it could be wise to build additional parking lots or turn existing lots into parking structures.
If increasing the supply of parking spots is not an option, consider taking actions to reduce the demand for parking spots. Possible actions include:
- Create a direct bike path
- Add secure bike parking that provides shelter and security cameras
- Improve campus transit buses and trolleys by adding more pick up times and routes
- Switch from annual parking to daily parking
Create a Sustainable Student Farm
Many universities have created areas where students, staff, and faculty can grow and tend to produce. If you have the room to set aside such a space, it can provide numerous benefits to the campus including:
- Educating students – On basic farming techniques and gardening skills involved with organic food production, sustainable agriculture, and environmentally friendly practices.
- Feeding the campus – Providing the student body with healthy, locally grown produce.
- Improving the world – By helping young people learn the value of patience, hard work, and appreciating nature.
Focus on Making Spaces Where Students Can Come Together
While reading about important matters is a vital learning tool, lived experiences are also critical for a young person’s development. A student needs to engage in attending games, hearing new music, experiencing new cultures, languages, and ideas. College students, especially, require places where they can gather, socialize, and engage in discussion, debate, and relationship building. Universities are filled with different people from various backgrounds and you want to set aside places where they can come together and build a cohesive university community in spite of their differences.
Building residence halls, student centers, civic spaces, cultural spaces, music halls, and other such facilities can help funnel students together and grow the campus community. They encourage them to interact with others, stretch their intellectual horizons, learn, and grow as people. They help transform the campus from being a place filled with individuals to a student body that is united by shared respect and university values. Although it is not direct learning in the classroom, this socialization is almost as critical a learning component in the formation of well-rounded, responsible, contributing members of society.
The younger generation cares deeply about their impact on the environment. Sustainability, recycling, and energy consumption matter to them. Many will be drawn in by a campus that mirrors their beliefs on the benefits of going green and provides them with the resources to do so. Universities that pave the way and take the initiative for creating a better, more sustainable future serve as models for young people.
An easy way to improve your campus is by making a concerted effort to go green. Possible campus sustainability ideas include:
- Retrofitting buildings heating and AC
- Employing solar
- Focusing on recycling
- Changing to CFL or LED light bulbs
- Ditching textbooks and going digital
A campus-wide effort to reduce emissions not only benefits the university but the world as a whole.
Do Not Forget the Campus Tour
Every spring, hundreds of thousands of Juniors in high school go on a college tour with their parents. On this trip, they will visit several colleges back to back as a means of comparing and contrasting their options. They get a feel for what they are looking for and answer questions like:
- Big state school or small private university?
- East coast or west coast?
- Could I envision myself spending four years here?
- Is my intended major or career path emphasized here?
- Is Greek life important to the school or to them individually?
- Does the school’s athletics programs such as football or basketball matter?
- Do Alumni stay involved?
While most every University gives tours, some understand the purpose of it better than others. This visit gives students a chance to see current students in action and get a sense of what University life is like there. The tour guide shows them around to help the prospective students imagine what their life would be like at the college. As a result, it is critical that you create an engaging and interactive tour that really sells the University and highlights what sets it apart from the rest. If you plan on making any of the improvements discussed above to your college campus, it is critical that you feature them in your college tour.
Improving Your Campus
All of the suggestions above are intended to either make student life more convenient, engage student interaction, or provide them with reasons to take pride in their university and what it represents. Whether it be adding parcel lockers or updating the recreational facility, there are a variety of steps you can take to improve your campus environment.
And remember that the improvements don’t always have to cost an arm and a leg. They can be smart, affordable, and focused on improving efficiency.