Back to basics

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My college is building tiny dorm rooms. Who wants to live in a crowded dorm?

Accommodation is always a hot college topic so lots of frosh are wondering this too. Where you live and study can make a big difference on your overall well-being and ultimately your academic performance. With tuition rising, colleges are looking for ways to ease the burden for future students. Cutting down on living space seems to be one solution, we will find out why.

Just a couple of decades ago campus dormitories were spartan, sterile boxes that were often the bane of student life. Some colleges have tried to eliminate dorms, but they have remained on most campuses. Millennials today have a multitude of options ranging from lavish off-campus apartments to basic dorm rooms. A new hybrid of these two extremes has now emerged in the form of tiny rooms or ‘pods’ fully fitted with all of the amenities.

The splurge on executive-style student living has slowed following a decade-long building boom around colleges. Square footage is falling and recent years have seen a decline in construction of high-end student housing. Growing concerns over student debt and rising tuition along with a decline in high school graduates have prompted this shift in student housing.

Universities are worried about the impact of accommodation expenses on student’s abilities to earn a degree. A study by Georgia State University found that every $5,000 in additional costs resulted in a typical student being 12 percent less likely to graduate. A plan was developed which would provide simple but tiny dorms at lower cost than regular student accommodation.

Described more as pods than rooms these small but comfy living spaces have all the conveniences such as Wi-Fi, heating and cooling, TV, and washers and dryers on each floor. Some are smaller than an average parking space at just 72-square-meters for a single, but students seem to be embracing them, and the significantly reduced cost even more.

New housing projects at the University of California San Francisco and San Diego campuses have reduced space by a third by eliminating the living room, explain home improvement and construction experts. Communal areas with full amenities and gaming rooms are replacing individual, fully loaded apartments.

Higher education is no longer in a growth period which has resulted in more colleges shifting away from luxury lodgings and into more practical living spaces. Numbers are down and, according to reports, this year there were 81,000 fewer high school graduates than the previous. The result is fewer students attending college, a trend that has continued downwards for the past five years.

As more colleges embrace this new standard of student housing by redeveloping old buildings and squeezing more rooms into less space, pricing will come down. This can only be good news for students. In the long run, less spent on college accommodation will reduce the ever-increasing national student debt. Back to your question, you pay your money and you make your choices, but less can often mean more.

Yeah, I spent about 20 years in a dorm room. It took me a while to graduate… Douglas Wilson.

Written by Martin J. Young, former correspondent of Asia Times.