Feature Article - June 2018
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Colleges & Universities

A Look at Trends in Colleges & Universities

Despite the fact that they are less likely than others to be planning construction, among college respondents who do have plans to build, their budgets for construction are the highest of the groups covered in the survey. College respondents with construction plans reported that they will spend, on average, 121.4 percent more than the average for all respondents--$9,500,000 vs. $4,290,000. In addition, while overall, respondents' construction budgets fell 0.2 percent from 2017 to 2018, college respondents saw their construction budgets grow 22 percent in that time frame, from $7,786,000 in 2017 to $9,500,000 in 2018.

There was little change in the past year in the various features most commonly found among college respondents' facilities. The 10 features that are currently most common include: fitness centers, locker rooms, indoor courts for sports like basketball and volleyball, classrooms and meeting rooms, exercise studio rooms, bleachers and seating, natural turf sports fields, indoor walking/running tracks, outdoor courts for sports like tennis and basketball, and Wi-Fi services.

College respondents were less likely than non-college respondents to report that they have plans to add features at their facilities over the next three years. While 43.9 percent of non-college respondents have such plans, just 36.5 percent of college respondents said they will be adding features. This is up from 32.4 percent in 2017.

The most commonly planned features for college respondents in 2018 include:

  1. Synthetic turf sports fields (planned by 32.3 percent of college respondents with plans to add features)
  2. Locker rooms (27.4 percent)
  3. Fitness centers (25.8 percent)
  4. Indoor tracks (21 percent)
  5. Exercise studios (19.4 percent)
  6. Bleachers and seating (17.7 percent)
  7. Classrooms and meeting rooms (17.7 percent)
  8. Climbing walls (17.7 percent)
  9. Indoor sports courts (16.1 percent)
  10. Wi-Fi services (12.9 percent)

Synthetic turf sports fields continue to hold the top position among planned features, growing from 28.6 percent in 2017 to 32.3 percent in 2018. There were also increases in the number of college respondents planning to add: locker rooms (up from 22.9 percent); fitness centers (up from 18.6 percent); exercise studios (up from 14.3 percent), bleachers and seating (up from 17.1 percent), and classrooms and meeting rooms (up from 17.1 percent). Commonly planned features in 2018 that did not appear on this list in 2017 include indoor tracks, indoor sports courts and Wi-Fi services. They replace fitness trails and outdoor fitness equipment, disc golf courses, and park restroom structures.


Some 96.9 percent of college respondents said they provide programming of some kind at their facilities. This compares with 97 percent of non-college respondents. Fitness programs continue to be the most commonly offered program among college respondents. Some 82.8 percent of college respondents said they provide fitness programs, representing virtually no change from 2017, when 83 percent of college respondents provided fitness programs.

Other programs common among college respondents include: mind-body balance programs such as yoga and tai chi (71.2 percent); educational programs (55.2 percent); sports tournaments and races (54.6 percent); swimming programs (53.4 percent); personal training (51.5 percent); individual sports activities such as running clubs or swim clubs (48.5 percent); adult sports teams (46 percent); day camps and summer camps (42.3 percent); and aquatic exercise programs (38.7 percent).

Program offerings that are provided by more college respondents in 2018 than in 2017 include: mind-body balance programs (up from 67.5 percent); sports tournaments and races (up from 52.8 percent); swimming programs (up from 42.9 percent); individual sports activities (up from 46.2 percent); and aquatic exercise programs (up from 36.8 percent).

College respondents were less likely than non-college respondents to report that they were planning to add more programs at their facilities over the next few years. While 33.1 percent of non-college respondents have such plans, just 20.6 percent of college respondents are planning to add programs. This is down from 25.9 percent in 2017.

The top 10 planned programs for college and university respondents include:

  1. Fitness programs (up from No. 4)
  2. Mind-body balance programs (down from No. 1)
  3. Educational programs (did not appear in 2017)
  4. Day camps and summer camps (down from No. 2)
  5. Holiday events and other special events (did not appear in 2017)
  6. Sports tournaments and races (down from No. 3)
  7. Aquatic exercise programs (up from No. 8)
  8. Nutrition and diet counseling (down from No. 6)
  9. Individual sports activities (no change)
  10. Personal training (down from No. 5)

New to the list in 2017 is holiday events and other special events. It replaces programs for active older adults.