There is a great deal of buzz about how schools with a clear respect for the environment overall, and a demonstrated commitment to a healthier campus environment in particular, are better positioned to attract and retain students. Behind all the buzz are some surprising facts that can build or break your enrollment numbers. Take this quick “test” to see how well your institution understands the challenges and opportunities at hand.
1. What percentage of students consider a college’s engagement with the environment when deciding whether or not to apply?
The answer: B. Nearly two-thirds of students want to know that their college years, and dollars, will be spent in a school that actively demonstrates its concern for the earth’s environment. They want to be part of and participate in a culture that embraces sustainability on all fronts, from the types of products used to operational practices.
2. For how many students is it absolutely essential to know that their college is implementing “green” practices?
The answer: A. The first question, above, points to how important environmental sensitivity is to getting in to a student’s consideration set. This finding speaks to the urgency of activating your environmental philosophy – and it says “get green, or get written off the list” early by nearly half of your prospective enrollees.
3. Which of the following facts is true about “green schools,” that is, colleges with an operational commitment to the environment?
A. 30% see a drop in operating costs
B. 5% see an increase in student test scores
C. 15% enjoy lower absenteeism
D. All the above
The answer: D. While it requires an investment to go green, the returns on that investment are varied and significant.
4. What portion of students expects their school’s foodservice to be environmentally
The answer: A. Nearly three-quarters of students expect that foodservice practices be shaped by a real sense of environmental responsibility. This may affect the types of food served, how it’s sourced, served and disposed of, the types of products used to serve it – even how, and with what, it is cleaned up.
5. How much impact does a healthy “personal environment” have on students?
A. Considerable impact – 36% report that getting sick negatively influenced their academic performance
B. Moderate impact – 22% say that staying healthy at school is an issue
C. Little consequence – Only 5% feel that it matters for their schools to have health-conscious policies and programs
The answer: A. Colleges and universities have the opportunity to set themselves apart through a commitment to health, expressed in everything from healthy food to stress-reducing wellness programs, and even small touches like making hand sanitizers available in classrooms, cafeterias and public spaces.
These are just a few of the facts shaping the need for institutions of higher learning to place a higher emphasis on issues of environment and health. Is your school passing the test?