housing preferences

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Student Preferences in Housing
Survey data analysis: preferred unit styles and costs
Sarah L. Samuels | Eric D. Luskin

Student housing has the potential to offer multiple benefits and risks. Living in student-focused housing can, for example, ease a student’s adjustment to college, improve study habits and enhance general well being (Enochs & Roland, 20061). From the broader standpoint of the college or university, housing is an increasingly important factor in recruiting new students (June, 20062). In nationwide research by The Scion Group, many schools have reported that residential learning communities have been effective at increasing students’ engagement and retention. For the larger communities in which schools are located, purpose-built student housing may enhance neighborhood life and provide increased partnerships between the school and community, such as expanding service learning opportunities for students. Nonetheless, these benefits also come with challenges, potentially including high financial costs and negative impact on public relations. Accordingly, the more an institution understands about student housing, the better it can minimize the risks while capitalizing on the benefits. Over the past ten years, The Scion Group has collected survey responses from more than 30,000 students through customized survey instruments developed to address the needs of specific clients and projects. The following analysis considers 13 of those surveys, representing responses from nearly 6,000 students. The selected surveys are included where the questions were similar enough to support comparisons. These surveys have a specific focus on single-student preferences regarding a variety of unit types. By examining multiple unit types, the physical attributes students prefer can be studied – for example, what features and amenities will students dislike, find acceptable or find particularly appealing, and how much privacy is worth additional cost to students. Developing more complete knowledge of what students seek when considering cost in their housing can help not only when evaluating new housing, but also when trying to make the best use of existing inventory. New construction or major renovations happen only rarely in the life-cycle of a student housing community, making it even more critical to incorporate preferred design elements from the outset.

Scion has drawn some broad conclusions about single-student preferences through the quantitative survey data collected, along with qualitative data collected via numerous focus-group sessions, observations and anecdotal evidence. Data collection methods, summaries and conclusions are presented below, together with notes on limitations of the data and the analysis.

Data Collection
The data presented below were collected through surveys designed for individual institutions and projects with input from each institution. The 13 surveys included in the analysis represent student preferences at 13 campuses – five private and eight public institutions throughout the continental United States and Canada. The population targeted by the survey on each campus ranges from 391 to 37 ,943 individual students.

© 2010 The Scion Group LLC
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Enochs, W. K. & Roland, C. B. (2006). Social adjustment of college freshmen: The importance of gender and living environment [Electronic version]. College Student Journal 40(1). Retrieved March 7 2008, ,

from web.ebscohost.com.turing.library.northwestern.edu/ehostdetail?vid=4&hid=120&sid= 6d395e80-1e28-4524-b8a1-998b5236a0ab%40sessionmgr108
June, A. W. (2006a, June 9). Facilities play a key role in students’ enrollment decisions, study finds [Electronic version]. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 51(21). Retrieved November 26, 2007, from http://chronicle.com.turing.library.northwestern.edu

Sur veys were circulated to
each target student population
electronically, typically via e-mail
addresses provided by the...
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