College Planning & Management

MAY 2013

College Planning & Management is the information resource for professionals serving the college and university market. Covering facilities, security, technology and business.

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OUTFITTING STUDENT REC CENTERS PHOTOS © JWEST PRODUCTIONS INTERIORS Campus recreation centers have evolved into multipurpose, state-of-the-art facilities that have proven to have a direct, positive impact on student recruitment and retention. Some of the diverse offerings in top-rated student rec centers include: Olympic-sized swimming pools, climbing walls, strength-training facilities, saunas, personal trainers, and basketball and racquetball courts, as well as wellness-directed spaces such as meditation rooms, juice bars, and kitchen spaces where students can learn healthy cooking methods. Space for Getting Well However, there are also trends emerging that reflect the importance of health overall. One is space for socializing — emotional health. "Instead of assuming that space for food service comes out of the net gross of space," says McKenna, "it's actually programmed in." Here, students can meet friends before exercising and hang out with them after exercising. Another trend is wellness services — physical health. "Administrators are taking the preventive side of services, which are traditionally provided through health services, and moving it into the rec center," McKenna observes. "There may counseling, demo kitchens, and other things that are part of a healthy lifestyle." Value All Around Students, many of whom participated in high school sports and enjoyed summer pool memberships, year-round YMCA memberships, and/or community rec centers, ask for student rec centers because sports and fitness is what they know. For instance, Patton indicates that weight/selectorized fitness equipment is the number-one destination for as many as 40 to 45 percent of students who walk through the rec center door. Similarly, Watts notes that it's the biggest classroom on campus: "Seventy to 80 percent of students go there two to three times a week. It's an integral part of campus life." What students may not know, but administrators must know, is the value a rec center provides the college or university in return. There are three. The first is they're recruiting tools: "They tend to be one of the first stops or a major highlight of student tours," says Massey. The second is employment: Rec centers tend to be the highest on-campus student employers. This doesn't sound like much until it's connected to the third value: student retention. "The University of New Haven found that employed students in the rec center had a seven to eight percent higher retention level than students employed elsewhere on campus," says Massey. "They also found that there is higher retention of students who use the rec center regularly vs. those who don't." 52 COLLEGE PLANNING & MANAGEMENT / MAY 2013 WWW.PLANNING 4EDUCATION.COM

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