So, How Are Universities Attracting Consumers?

By Matthew Stein

Schools today are relying on more than just their academic prowess in attracting students, but also the “experience” of college in its entirety and what that means to today’s students. Facilities are one way in which schools support and enhance students’ education. Architects and developers are creating spaces that support and enhance learning. Design plays an instrumental role in how a consumer “chooses” a school. As the consumers are changing, the schools are responding by providing different types of amenities in their buildings as part of a well-rounded academic experience and creating an environment conducive to academic achievement. These buildings offer amenities such as group learning spaces, study rooms, athletic facilities, technology, and now, retail choices. These types of “amenities” help attract and retain the best and brightest to campus.

Expectations of campus offerings have changed dramatically over the past few years. Eating at college is no longer limited to the buffet-style dining halls and library cafes, but also the variety of options on the edge of campus. There is no doubt colleges and universities are stepping up their game when it comes to recruitment. And they are not just recruiting future students, but staff, faculty and community members. The placement of retail on campus must be strategic and well woven.

Variety is the spice of life. So why shouldn’t a college student have options as well? Students recognize the potential impact of not only the academic education they receive in college, but how the experience of the institution will shape their future. How the campus architecture engages with and invites people, what message the retail and restaurant options of the campus reveals, and what that all means to the individual is just as important.