Higher education is rapidly evolving. As we use planning and design to help our clients navigate major shifts in culture, technology, and funding, it is essential to focus on strategies that help foster an education that is relevant after graduation.
One way to promote relevance is to strengthen the bond between academic disciplines and the campus residential life experience. Students spend the majority of their on-campus time outside the classroom, so supporting academic endeavors and exploration across the spectrum of campus environments is important. Studies show this is best accomplished when learning communities are integrated with living environments. By physically integrating living and learning on campus, students’ social and academic lives are connected—shaping their overall experience and encouraging their success.
Students in living/learning environments also are more engaged in student life, have higher retention rates, and are more active as alumni than their peers who do not have the benefit of this structure.
For specific academic programs or student demographics, tailored living/learning environments support respective needs. For example, sustainability majors may have living environments situated near—or even permeated by—natural systems. First generation college students need a more supportive, academically-oriented environment to help them establish educational priorities and good study habits.
Spaces that support a culture of achievement and collaboration beyond the classroom help students build relationships that promote student success—and last a lifetime.