The millennial generation attended college in a golden era for student housing, as investors poured money into luxurious off-campus communities packed with resort-style amenities and many universities amped up their campus dorms and amenities in an effort to bolster recruitment, such as LSU’s lazy river.
But as millennials move on and so-called Generation Z moves in, The New York Times reports that student housing is shifting away from recreational dazzle and toward amenities that reflect the gig economy: digital conveniences, ample spaces indoors and out for studying and collaborating, and cutting-edge fitness facilities to maintain wellness.
“Shared study rooms, a pickup spot for Uber and GrubHub, Amazon lockers—this is the ‘everything at your fingertips’ generation,” says Carl Whitaker, the manager of data analytics at RealPage, a provider of software and data to the real estate industry.
Also, as college costs continue to rise, more students—and their parents—are looking to get the most value out of their education, says Jim Curtin, a principal at Solomon Cordwell Buenz, an architecture firm in Chicago that works on university housing around the country. Innovation labs and maker spaces are more likely to impress incoming students than the previously popular climbing walls and tanning beds.
“They don’t want needless things,” Curtin says. “It’s almost like school is becoming more of a career boot camp: ‘How am I going to graduate with the highest-paying job I can get so I can pay down my loans?’”