The Results Are In! Students Respond to Higher Education Survey about Enrollment Issues

By Nathan Woods, AIA

June 5, 2023
Student Survey

We asked current and prospective college/university students a few direct questions about their opinions on attending a college or university to find out more about enrollment, engagement, and the future landscape of higher education. Here’s what we found!

Student Survey

1. Choosing Higher Education

When asked what the most important aspect of choosing a college or university was, 53% of respondents said they would choose a school based on whether it had the best program for their desired major. The second highest consideration was nice student housing at 16% of respondents, followed by on-campus housing at 15% of respondents. Cost consideration actually came in fourth at 9% of respondents. Students are first and foremost interested in pursuing their desired major, but they are also concerned about what their living situation will be.

Student Housing
Student Housing
Southern Wesleyan University – Joiner-Hilson Complex

2. Student Housing

We gave students three options of student housing styles, and here’s what they chose:

21% chose a shared bedroom, communal bathroom, one large community space.

33% chose a private bedroom, private bathroom, shared community space with roommates.

46% chose a shared bedroom, shared bathroom with roommates only, one large community space.

Nearly half of the respondents preferred having a shared bedroom and bathroom with just their roommates, with one large community space to be shared by all. Less than a quarter of survey respondents were interested in a living space with a communal bathroom! I think we can imagine why not.

Southern Wesleyan University – Joiner-Hilson Complex

3. In-Person or Online?

The third question asked if students would prefer to attend college in person, online, or a hybrid of both. Only 23% of respondents said they would prefer online courses, and 33% would prefer a hybrid version. 44% of respondents would prefer to attend college in person!

College in-person
College in-person
Student Engagement

4. Higher Education Deterrents

When asked what might stop respondents from attending a college or university in person, these are some of the answers given:


-Working full time


-Student Life


-Surrounding Area

-Career Opportunities

-Anxiety/Health Issues


-Criminal Background

-No one is supporting the family

-Campus safety

-Size of the school

-Away from family

The top three reasons that would deter students from attending college or university in person from these results were cost, distance from home, and campus life.

Student Engagement

5. Is it Worth It?

Finally, students were asked if the experience of attending college or university on-campus would outweigh the cost of in-person vs online. 68% of respondents said yes, the experience would be worth the cost of attending in person.

So, what does all of this information tell us?

The majority of current or prospective students still want to attend college or university in person, but are deterred by cost, how far the campus is from their home, and the quality of campus life. They want a place that offers their desired major, but again are concerned about cost, and their living situation on campus.

Huntington HUB Student Lounge Students
Huntington HUB Student Lounge Students

Here’s what we all want to know: what are the solutions to these deterrents? Many of the solutions start with the campus itself – affordable student housing, campus centers, amenities, and state-of-the-art buildings that house desired programs. As architects, engineers, and interior designers, we may not be able to change the cost of tuition or move an entire college campus closer to your home. But our team has a wide range of personal college/university experiences, and we know what it’s like to share a bathroom with what feels like your entire freshman class, or struggle through your courses in the basement of a leaky old building with no windows.

In the next issue of IMPRINT, we will share some of our secrets to a happy, vibrant student life on campus, and how we can help provide solutions to some of the biggest concerns for students and educators.

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