5 Ways to Build Community for Your Student Residents

By Victoria Robertson on July 19, 2017

Renting to college students can be a great blessing or a disaster. However, a lot of the outcome relies on your ability to make the residents feel at home.

A large reason college students choose to dorm is because of the community — nobody enjoys small rooms with no personal space. However, they do enjoy the fact that the entire floor is filled with similar individuals in the same situation.

So how do you compete with that? Basically, you need to build a sense of community in the facility for your student residents.

How do you accomplish this? Here are five things you can do to build community for your student residents.

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1. Create a common area

If your complex does not have one of these, try to create a spot by putting out a few chairs or picnic tables on the property, such as in a courtyard. While this isn’t always possible given the layout of a building, these are very small corrections that can completely change the way that your property is perceived by the student residents.

By making these changes, you are allowing them to feel more at home and welcome rather than isolated in their rooms, and this is a great way to get residents out and about to meet one another, as they would be able to in a dorm.

2. Host events

If a common area is not a possibility,  host events on and around campus exclusively for your residents and their friends. Not only are you increasing the clientele, you are providing residents an incentive to get out and meet others in the building.

These can be as simple or as complex as you want to make them, either bags tournaments, potlucks, meet and greets, or cocktail hours (for residents that are of age), etc. You can really be as creative as possible, and for little to no money, create a fun event that your residents can look forward to.

3. Put out a calendar for residents

Some places will create event calendars for the building that is little cost to management but provides a world of fun for the residents. For instance, you can hold themed parties, such as summer cookouts and fall bonfires, or just have monthly meet and greet outings for residents to participate in. This way, residents can pick and choose which events they can or want to attend.

Plus, this is a great way to make sure your residents are actively involved and getting out to meet new people. Again, this improves the chances of repeat customers and referrals. And it is simple, you can post a schedule to a bulletin board advertising the events for little to no cost to you. So, this is really a win-win situation.

4. Be accessible

While you do want to keep a somewhat professional relationship with your residents, they are often used to having an RA to talk to, and it’s not a bad idea to create that same, open door policy.

By doing so, your residents will feel comfortable approaching you with any questions and concerns, but you can also maintain a relationship that doesn’t compromise your ability to run your business. It is just a small change, such as making your contact information readily available and allowing residents to easily schedule appointments with you, but it will make a world of difference.

5. Hear them

One of the biggest deterrents for college students is when they feel that their needs aren’t being met. If you are not willing to meet their needs, they’ll be less likely to sign a lease. Therefore, make sure that whatever issues/concerns/questions brought up to you by your residents are taken seriously and addressed in full, no matter how ridiculous you believe they are.

Yes, college students are rather inexperienced when it comes to leasing an apartment. However, inexperience does not necessarily mean that the students are willing to put up with anything. What it comes down to is whether or not they feel valued, and if they do not, they will take their business elsewhere.

So make sure that you show them they are valued and truly demonstrate the effort you are putting in to make them feel more at home. This will not only improve their sense of community, but it will improve their attitudes towards you and your company as a whole.

Having college residents does not necessarily mean they need to forgo that “college experience.” In fact, you can manufacture that sense of community right in your apartment complex so long as you follow the above tips.

Pay attention to what your residents want — the more responsive you are to their needs, the more likely you will have repeat customers when next year rolls around.

By Victoria Robertson

Uloop Writer
University of Illinois
Victoria is a dedicated writer who graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She currently writes freelance pieces for various sites and works in Marketing for Myndbee Inc., promoting their current mobile app, Picpal.

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