A New Look at the Campus Experience


GAI’s Frank Bellomo, PLA shares his experience – both professionally and from a personal point of view – at what it takes to attract and retain students.

Throughout my career, I have enjoyed the opportunity of interacting with colleges and universities across the United States (U.S.). I have seen first-hand the pressures our collegiate clients have to attract and retain students in this highly competitive environment. I have worked with these institutions on a professional level and also recently experienced evaluating them from a different perspective – as a parent – which really solidified my perspective on the role that the campus environment plays when it comes to attracting and retaining students.

I have seen first-hand the pressures our collegiate clients have to attract and retain students in this highly competitive environment.

As an example, I was on the obligatory “college-tour” with my daughter a while back. We visited a handful of major state universities and took guided and self-guided tours. Clearly, these are arranged to show the best that a college has to offer, both in terms of social life and the beauty of the campus itself. It made me wonder how many of these potential students decide to attend a particular school based upon that visit. During some research, I found that U.S. News and World Report, the magazine that provides the most well-known ranking of colleges in the country, published a list of over 20 reasons why a student makes the college choice that they do. Reason #5, the college visit, was listed for 42% of survey respondents.

As noted in GAI’s Campus Planning and Design: 101 article, higher education is transforming drastically and the customary college experience is evolving with it, which has presented challenges for universities to attract and retain students. As competition for securing and retaining students’ increases, and every advantage is being sought, it’s no wonder that improvements such as master plan updates and a host of aesthetic improvements, including creative approaches to infrastructure needs, have become so prevalent.

Our team has worked with campuses across the U.S. to help them with ideas and plans to enhance the campus experience. GAI’s work on landscape master plans, streetscapes, hotel/conference centers, new classroom facilities, gateways, and other campus improvements is an indication of colleges’ commitment to attracting the best and brightest by more than just academic offerings.

GAI is dedicated to working with our collegiate clients and helping them advance their goal of increasing student enrollment by enhancing the campus experience. While quality of education is a significant factor to consider on those prospective student tours, GAI’s campus planning professionals know that the quality of the campus is just as important.

 For more information on the impact of Higher Education trends or GAI’s services, contact Frank Bellomo, PLA, Assistant Vice President, at 407.423.8398.

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