WHEN STUDENTS SELECT A college they are choosing more than a school – for many, it's also the place they will call home for the next four years.
But college housing has changed over the years, as dorms of the past have evolved to meet the needs of a new generation of students, experts say. In many cases that means private rooms, suite-style living or off-campus apartments administered by the school. Modern college housing facilities vary by school, as do requirements for undergraduate students to live on campus.
"On every campus, you'll find a variety of housing types and styles," says Alvin Sturdivant, president of the nonprofit Association of College and University Housing Officers-International.
Types of College Housing
While parents may remember a shared room with a community bathroom down the hall, that's just one of many options now. Campus officials note that many colleges offer private bedrooms with shared common areas, or apartment-style facilities ranging from studios to models with several bedrooms. Increasingly, they say, gender-neutral bathrooms are also offered in residence halls.
"Depending on where you are, students have quite a bit available to them in the off-campus market. In order for campuses to remain relevant to students, we have to offer similar kinds of amenities," says Sturdivant, who also serves as vice president for student development at Seattle University.
As the modern home has evolved, so too have student expectations for privacy, housing officials say.
"For this generation of students, and for a few generations now, they grew up in many cases in a home where they had their own bedroom, whereas in decades past – in a lot of families – children would share bedroom space," says Brian Fisher, associate vice president for student engagement at Florida Gulf Coast University, which has nearly 5,000 students living on campus.
佛罗里达湾海岸大学（Florida Gulf Coast University）学生参加副校长布莱恩•费舍尔（Brian Fisher）说：“关于这一代学生，以及现在的几代人来说，他们在许多状况下都是在一个有自己卧室的家中长大的，而在曩昔的几十年里，在许多家庭中，孩子们会同享卧室空间。”住在学校里的学生。
And amenities aren't limited to private living quarters. Some colleges market their picturesque settings. At FGCU, for example, students can live lakeside, enjoying waterfront views complete with palm trees and aquatic activities. Fisher cites this as a unique feature of the FGCU campus and one that appeals to students because of the range of water sports offered through the college.
Another benefit of living on campus is that many daily needs are met by the college or university.
"You don't have to worry about the cooking and cleaning, the shopping, fixing things when they break. You can focus on the experience, like getting a world-class education," says Mari Anne Brocker Curry, associate director of housing for Housing Information and Marketing at the University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign, which has 11,000 students living in units controlled by the college.
“你不用忧虑煮饭、打扫卫生、购物、坏了的时分修补东西。伊利诺伊大学香槟分校（University of Illinois Urbana Champaign）担任住宅信息和营销的副主任Mari Anne Brocker Curry说：“你能够专心于体会，比方承受世界一流的教育。”
Another 3,000 students, she says, live in housing that is privately owned but certified by the university.
Illinois, like many other schools across the country, requires students to live on campus for their first year. Brocker Curry says that requirement is driven by university research that indicates better student outcomes for those living on campus. "Our research shows that students are more successful, better connected, more engaged and more likely to graduate if they have access to all of those resources and services.”
Sturdivant says ACUHO-I research also found better retention rates for students who live in campus housing.
"Students who live on campus tend to be retained at much higher levels than students who live off campus, particularly within that first and second year of college, which is why you see a lot of institutions with residency requirements for students," Sturdivant says.
Brocker Curry also mentions that "living and learning communities" allow students to organize around academic topics. This benefits students, she says, by allowing them to engage with peers on specific areas of study, honors programs or other academic options.
On-Campus Housing Safety
With thousands of students living on campus, colleges pay particularly close attention to safety issues, housing officials say.
"The variety of issues that can pop up on a college campus vary greatly, whether that's alcohol or drugs, student mental health or relationship issues that may lead to some kind of domestic issues or violence or assault. We train our staff on how to be prepared for all these situations," says Fisher, who adds that colleges are "incredibly safe statistically" compared with off-campus environments.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, an arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, college students are more likely to be victimized off campus than on campus.
To ensure student safety, Sturdivant says schools limit access to residence halls, typically issuing cards for students to swipe for entry to the building, as well as floors, rooms and even elevators in some cases. Front desks in residence halls also are staffed with students or security personnel. He adds that schools offer preventative education as well to make students aware of potential risks.
"There's quite a bit happening in the way of preventative education with students when they're first entering into a campus to help raise their awareness about proper precautions to take with regard to their own safety and security, and the different resources that are available to them on campus, both in residence, and then more broadly in the larger campus community," Sturdivant says.
Fisher suggests parents research campus safety by reading documents such as the school's annual security and fire safety report.
"Federal law requires campuses to disclose crime and safety records. They're available on any university website. Parents can easily find that information and review it and ask questions. Administrators should be able to respond to those questions well," Fisher says. "If they can't, that might make parents want to ask more questions about what the campus is doing to make sure their students are safe.”
While Sturdivant strongly encourages students to live on campus, he acknowledges that isn't feasible for all families.
According to the Urban Institute, a nonprofit think tank, the average published cost of living on campus as an undergraduate student ranges from $10,000 to $11,000 a year at both private and public colleges. That cost rose by 23% at public four-year colleges and 25% at private colleges between the 2006-07 school year and the 2016-17 school year.
The cost of college housing also fluctuates from state to state. Campus housing officials say it varies even more based on the housing option students choose.
For students who do choose to live on campus, experts suggest they dive into the experience. When living on campus, students should expect to be challenged to grow – to learn about other cultures, opinions, perspectives and their own identity along their journey.
"Generally, students should expect to be provided with resources in the residence that will give them the best chance of success and the ability to thrive as a part of their college experience," Sturdivant says. "They can expect to live in a community with others, and they can expect to be engaged with robust programming opportunities and service opportunities.”