As a college parent, one of your concerns may be where your college student will be living while away at college. Yes, you are certainly anxious that his classroom experiences are strong, but you want to be sure that your student is comfortable, safe, and happy in his living arrangements. Some of this concern may have to do with a compatible roommate, but you are also concerned about the physical facilities in which your student will live.
College residences are not what many of us remember from our college days. If you’ve spent much time visiting campuses, you’ve seen the changes. Students today, and their parents, expect a different living environment. Services which were yesterday’s luxuries are today’s required amenities. Today’s students may expect private rooms and bathrooms, suites or apartment style housing, internet, cable, kitchen facilities, parking and easy access to laundry facilities. They are sophisticated consumers, and colleges and universities are using housing options as tools to recruit and retain students. Housing that offers fitness facilities, spas, pools, movie theaters, convenience stores, and cafes are more and more common. As college tuition rises, colleges feel that they need to offer students more for their money. Campus housing is one area in which they are offering more.
One interesting resource may give parents an opportunity to view some of the changes in college housing. Decide for yourself how you feel about the importance of these amenities and services for your student, and compare them to your memories of college. Then have a conversation with your student about what he expects to find in his living arrangements.
Time Magazine has a photo essay about how the college dorm has changed over time. Check it out here.
The debate continues — and will continue — about whether increased amenities in college housing helps or hinders the student experience. As you visit colleges, or as your college student chooses her on-campus housing, consider your options. Help your student evaluate what is important to her and what life-style she expects. Try to help her keep housing in perspective with all of her other considerations in her college experience.