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“Ask The Experts” is written and provided by Scholarship Media. It does not reflect the views of The Collegian or its advertisers.

Our college is building new dorms. Are they going to be the same standard rooms?

Your college accommodation can have a huge effect on your well-being and even academic performance, so this question resonates with every student. Student housing has come a long way since the days of dingy dorms and you may be surprised at what your college is building.

As you prepare for moving to college, privacy is the most important thing students want in housing. Colleges responded by offering private living spaces and bathrooms, and small communal areas with shared facilities. In recent years, luxury-suite style student housing and apartments boomed as property developers responded to changing tastes and economics.

Today, universities are having a rethink. The private living model could be causing student isolation so many have reverted to the older model of campus living spaces. Double rooms with bathrooms and access to larger common areas are making a comeback on campus. The idea is to encourage more socializing between students, and foster a greater sense of community.

Residence hall design is taking influence from technology. With mobile computing, permanent high-speed internet connections, and distance learning all having an effect on where and how students study. Construction of living spaces and residence halls are designed to encourage students out of their rooms, where half of them still study, and into communal areas.

Newly designed student housing projects on campus are incorporating a variety of common areas such as gaming rooms, seminar rooms, lounges, and other sports and activity-oriented areas. Everywhere, wifi connections and mobile device chargers are available to students. Social areas with plush seating and furnishings facilitate student interaction. Glass walls, and even floors in some cases, also promote the concept of larger spaces and informal interaction. Designers are making efforts to move away from an era of isolation. Even community bathrooms with luxury fittings and decor have been added at some colleges to promote a social environment.

Actual bedroom sizes are shrinking to compensate for the larger communal areas, and getting students out of their rooms to socialize is a priority. Some are using techniques such as high ceilings to give the impression of more space, but in general these single living pods are around 75 to 110 square feet, which is not a lot. Smart design touches, uses of natural light, and quality furnishings make up for the lack of physical space.

Designers are also utilizing hallways as social spaces by bringing in daylight, and creating nooks as impromptu study spaces. Small phone rooms also provide quiet areas to make calls. Open office design concepts are used to create work areas and study environments. Students now have their own computers and mobile devices so no longer use a computer lab.

Campus housing design is in flux, and developers and institutions are planning ahead. Your new room may be small, but you will not feel cramped.

“Communal well-being is central to human life,” Cat Stevens.

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