Survey: Campus Cleanliness a Top Factor in College Selection

Parents now consider campus air quality important in light of the pandemic

July 28, 2021

Campus cleanliness and indoor air quality are now top factors that families consider when making college selection decisions, right behind academics and affordability, according to a new survey.

JLL Higher Education, a commercial real estate and professional services firm, recently asked 500 parents of high school-aged students on their changing opinions regarding college selection since the pandemic.

The survey indicates that factors attributing to student health and safety are top of mind for parents. Forty-eight percent of parents with high schoolers rank campus cleanliness and indoor air quality in the top three most important factors when asked their opinion on their child’s impending college or university selection, and a total of 84% of parents rank campus cleanliness and indoor air quality as either important or somewhat important. Quality of academics took the top spot of importance according to surveyed parents followed by affordability of college or university.

“Proper indoor ventilation and air circulation occupied the spotlight across most industries in the height of the pandemic, with 59% of parents never even considering campus air quality prior to COVID-19,” said Ron Gregory, JLL Higher Education executive vice president North America. “As people are more aware of their surroundings that impact their health and safety with greater reason, we can expect that students and staff on campuses will continue to demand transparency and the highest standards around cleanliness and air quality.”

Forty-two percent of parents noted that their sentiment toward campus cleanliness and indoor air quality increased as a result of COVID-19. While transparency around campus cleanliness and air quality remains top of mind, the way prospective students and their families perceive the health and safety of campus based upon appearance could also play a pivotal role in the decision process.

Eighty-six percent of parents rank the look and feel of campus as either important or somewhat important when it comes to college selection. And 88% of parents said the physical condition of buildings was either very important or somewhat important.

“From simple fixes like upgrading lightbulbs to harnessing new technologies across a campus, preventative maintenance is key for schools empowering vibrant campus experiences—before the physical condition of buildings becomes a turn off to prospective students,” said Kevin Wayer, JLL Public Institutions president. “Savings generated from preventative maintenance can go back into facilities upkeep, creating an overall better, cleaner and more modern experience for students.”

Environmental sustainability has also emerged as a major factor in student recruitment and to nearly every major university stakeholder, from students and faculty to parents and alumni. The survey found that 21% of parents became more interested in a school’s commitment to sustainability than they were before the pandemic, demonstrating the importance of a continued focus on sustainability when updating and developing new campus buildings. 

Survey highlights include:

  •  The top 3 most important factors when asked to rate their child’s impending college or university selection: Quality of academics (75% said important), affordability of college or university (71%), and campus cleanliness and indoor air quality (48%)
  • 59% of parents had never considered campus air quality before the pandemic
  • 21% of parents have become more interested in a school’s commitment to sustainability

 The JLL Higher Education survey was conducted in partnership with Engine Insights in June 2021. It surveyed 500 parents of 10th – 12th grade high school students considering higher education. 


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