How to Increase College & University Enrollment: The WELL Building Standard

Curious about how the "wellness" of your building can affect student enrollment and retention? Dive in...

What is WELL? And How Can it Increase Enrollment?
The WELL Building Standard was set by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), a global company formed to improve buildings and communities. WELL is “the premier standard for buildings, interior spaces and communities seeking to implement, validate and measure features that support and advance human health and wellness.” (IWBI, 2020). Scientific and medical research was done on the effect of building design practices on environmental health, behavioral factors, and physical health. IWBI took their research and divided it into standards of several categories that a building must meet in order to provide the highest level of overall wellness for its occupants. Thus, the WELL Building Standard certification was born.
IWBI. “International WELL Building Institute.” About | International WELL Building Institute, 2020,

WELL Building Standard
In order to achieve a WELL Building Standard certification, preconditions must be met in all 11 categories: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Movement, Thermal Comfort, Sound, Materials, Mind, Community, and Innovations. Once a building reaches all of the preconditions, it can receive additional credits from stellar standards in each category called optimizations. These optimizations can result in a Silver, Gold or Platinum WELL Certification Standard for the building. The overarching goal of obtaining a WELL certification for a building is to create a space that generates the highest level of health and well-being for employees, students, faculty and staff.

Student Enrollment and WELL
What does this have to do with increasing enrollment in colleges and universities? Young people who are around college age want to be at their best physically, mentally, and socially. Market studies show that wellness is a daily pursuit for Millennials. Younger generations are exercising more, trying to eat healthy, and buying product after product for health and beauty. Imagine if your college or university could boast an official certification of health and wellness to potential students! This may include easily accessible fitness equipment in dorms (Movement category), healthier, better-tasting food options (Nourishment category), noise-regulated study areas (Sound category), and easy access to the community (Mind and Community categories). All of these categories are things that prospective students are looking for already. With an official wellness certification to back that up, these categories are well-founded and credible in students’ minds.

Parents can also influence their child's college or university choice (due to the fact that many of them are paying for some or all of that education!). Knowing that their child is attending a place that highly values the well-being of its students and staff is comforting and encouraging to a parent. A WELL Building certification may be the deciding factor in a parent or student’s choice. When comparing all of the options to choose from, there may be a few colleges or universities that rise to the top of the list. Having a WELL certification may give your college or university an edge over the others.

To learn more about WELL, check out a presentation from two of DC’s architects on the WELL Building Standard here: