by: Shad Bookout
Much more than academics are provided as a result of the college experience. Life skills, work skills, friendships, and much more are also learned along the way. For students who take part in the college housing experience, an additional benefit is discovered. The true scope of living alongside so many different people, from so many different places, with so many different backgrounds may never fully be appreciated. But one thing is for sure. Life at your student student housing community will impact your residents for years to come.
Part of the challenges you have as a student housing professional is navigating the complex array of residents who call your community home. This becomes even more challenging when you realize that today’s student housing residents need and demand more individualized attention to their needs. It can be daunting to try to navigate these differing needs while trying to manage the needs of the entire community as a whole. The entire balancing act begins with determining who your student housing residents are and where they are from.
One group, and possibly the most populous, are the residents who are from the region surrounding the university. They have most likely known about the university their entire lives, and many have always known they will go there (many as legacy students). The cities and towns from which they hail are known by you and your team. They often make regular trips back home and often are the ones with the most involved parents guiding them (sometimes even too much) along the way. They know more of the people surrounding them and can draw comfort in the campus friendships that exist before they even arrive.
Another group, your domestic transplants, are a little more difficult to analyze. Though there are rarely huge differences in their backgrounds, the differences that do exist can significantly impact their student housing experience. For one, they are going to have a greater sense of loneliness since family is further away. Big city versus rural life can also bring with it a host of cultural changes that mean they have to adapt to a campus culture that is foreign to them. Mix the challenges of moving away, the pressures of academics, and the social awkwardness of getting to know the diverse groups around you, and you will find that may of these residents have new levels of stress they need to overcome in order to get the most out of life at your community.
For international students the experiences can be even more extreme. Whereas campuses and student housing communities embrace and celebrate diversity, individual roommates or other individuals may not be as welcoming. They are strangers in a strange land and have all the difficulties of domestic transplants, plus additional challenges of language and cultural adaptations. Taking a little extra time to get to know them, where they are from, and how they see the world, allows you the opportunity to not only help them succeed, but also gives you insight on how you can help your community be better at celebrating the diversity of its residents.
All of these groups and many more will be arriving at your community for the start of the new term. What are you doing to get ready? Let us know in the comments down below.