A recent University of Michigan study “College as Country Club: Do Colleges Cater to Students’ Preferences for Consumption?”, suggests that “consumption amenities” (which, amongst others, includes accommodation and rec centers) may be overall bigger draws than the strength of the academic program—prompting them to determine that: “for many institutions, demand-side market pressure may not compel investment in academic quality, but rather in consumption amenities.”
The Great Recession may have thrust cost more into the debate, but the fact is student experience continues to be the draw, prompting colleges to spend big on the amenities to enhance reputation and so enrollment (the University of Purdue recently spent $98m on a student requested rec center renovation).
Retention and graduation are two of the other major issues plaguing colleges. Getting kids to your campus is a challenge. Keeping them there is another. So the importance of a positive on-campus experience becomes increasingly important.
Of course, rec centers won’t be the determining factor, but it is one nonetheless. And competition to provide students an exercise experience that is worthy of their time (and tuition) is fierce.
But it’s not just fitness equipment that defines the experience. From amenities like juice bars and convenience stores in the gym (University of Cincinnati), and an indoor beach (University of Missouri), students are becoming discerning customers when looking at the type of extras that colleges have to offer. And in turn, colleges will need to adjust to those expectations to stay competitive in the student marketplace.
It’s not just about working out, fitness centers, rec centers or gyms are also a place to relax, be seen and yes, perhaps even get healthy. Beyond the fitness equipment itself, then there are the extras, like group fitness classes, rock climbing walls, individualized eating plans and massively discounted massages that some colleges offer their students.
Not every school can be the University of Ohio (ranked No. 1 by Men’s Fitness as Fittest College in America), but it doesn’t mean that a college can’t find alternatives to stretching their budgets to providing facilities that will get students on campus and more importantly keep them there.
With the type of scrutiny and criticism that colleges receive, some might have to look at means of reducing costs while still providing the type of experience that will command students’ attention. Which equipment will impress while still maintaining resale value, buying new versus previously-owned fitness equipment are concerns that budget-conscious higher education organizations should consider.
Finding a partner that can make a positive impact on your productivity and your bottom line becomes important in tailoring goals to budget. Understanding the importance of creating an environment that keeps you competitive in a crowded marketplace is why enerG wellness offers a customized 360° approach that manages and monitors the entire process of designing and outfitting your fitness facility from concept to completion, and after-sale service and repairs.