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University rec centers are often seen as bonuses for students and staff, but really, the facilities are pinnacle to the success of students as well as the success of the university. The rec center becomes a social gathering place for students of all levels to meet friends and be active on campus.
You, as University Program Directors and Facility Operators of the university recreation center, have an important role on campus. Your program should be seen as an important asset to the university, from the first time a prospective student steps on campus to when they graduate.
Your Approach to Acquisition
Similar to traditional fitness facilities, you should consider how to get students walking through the door. However, you’re not asking for a yearlong gym membership; you’re asking for students to commit years of their lives to the school.
In an article published by Recreation Sports Journal (RSJ), researchers ‘found that a significant number of students indicated the quality of a college’s recreational sports program is an important factor in determining their choice of a college/university.’1
As you consider that statement, evaluate how your university conducts its prospective-student tours. Do they make the rec center an important part of the tour? The RSJ article states that ‘recruitment and retention tend to increase when a campus recreation center is built or renovated.’
Your Approach to Retention
Retaining your students should be just as much a concern for you as acquiring them. The decision to commit four years to a school is a big investment, one you want them to stick with throughout their education.
Students’ participation in the recreation facility has shown to directly correlate to their college experiences. Through student polls, researchers ‘discovered 30% of respondents indicated that campus recreation facilities played an important factor in their decision to attend and remain at their university.’1 With nearly one third of students stating the rec center as one of the main reasons they’re staying at a university, your programs and offerings should be a top priority.
If you’re unsure about your reputation on campus, perform a poll of students to get an idea of how your facility is considered among your student body. If your findings show that the rec center isn’t a big draw for students, it may be time to focus on student retention.
Be an Imperative Program for Students' Success
Just as important as attracting students and encouraging them to stay in school is ensuring that your rec center is an important part of your students’ success. The RSJ research found that usage of a collegiate recreation facility had a positive influence on academic success and that students are happier and more satisfied with their overall experience.1
Finding ways in which you can influence your students to drive them towards success in their studies and school life is imperative to your own success. As you plan the activities of your university rec center, keep these business objectives in mind. How will you attract prospective students? How will you encourage them to get involved? And how will your programs feed into the success of your students?
See firsthand how focusing on these three objectives created a successful rec center at University of North Carolina Greensboro.
Rachel Vander Pol is a content writer for Precor, a fitness equipment manufacturer whose mission is to develop personalized health and fitness experiences that help people live the lives they desire. When not writing about fitness, Rachel enjoys road cycling, indoor cycle classes, and yoga. For more information on the fitness industry, tips for gym operators, and workout ideas, visit the Precor Resource Center.