Case Study

St. John Fisher College
Rochester, NY

Student Housing and Residence Life Study, 2016

Demographic Perspectives assisted St. John Fisher College to develop short-term and long-term strategies for housing and residential life. Fisher has a community culture that plays an important role in students’ admissions choices and their overall student experience through housing. Fisher had several challenges: (1) How to ensure that the housing situation of their Freshmen, a high percent of whom lived on-campus, would create a positive experience, and that all of their students would be well-served by their housing options? (2) What was the optimal percentage of students they should house to sustain their strong sense of community on campus, and should this housing include graduate students as an area of growth? (3) In order to forestall crowding in campus housing, should they plan to renovate existing housing or construct new housing?

Stakeholder Input

DP gained an understanding of Fisher’s unique character through stakeholder interviews with trustees, administrators, deans, student leaders, and students living on- and off-campus. We pooled data from previous student surveys to find preliminary answers to how housing affected recruitment, admissions’ decisions, the student experience, and retention rates.

Demographic Analysis

DP analyzed regional demographic trends to address concerns about how they might affect undergraduate enrollment and housing targets.


Demographic Perspectives was an excellent partner in helping the College convey to the St. John Fisher trustees important information about how our housing options influenced students' enrollment decisions.  Their analysis of data contained in our prior surveys unearthed a key indicator that the College had not previously recognized, that, while we were doing well, the College could do even better with enrollment by strengthening our housing options.  That solidified the support of trustees for our efforts to plan for additional student housing.

Rick DeJesus-Rueff, Ed.D., Vice President for Student Affairs & Diversity Initiatives, emeritus


Peer Benchmarking

The peer benchmarking study gathered data from 10 schools of similar structure in New York State, collecting 22 criteria on each school (e.g. unit types offered, whether graduate students were housed).

Off-Campus Student Housing Study

As an additional indicator of student demand for housing, DP conducted a unique, cost-effective, map-based survey of students living off campus, asking where they lived, their rental rates, and their level of interest in living on campus if new options were available.


Actionable Outcomes

  • Identified graduate students as a potential source of future housing growth.
  • Utilized peer benchmarking to aid Fisher in determining the percent of students they should house, and whether they should offer apartment-style housing.
  • Crafted questions to be regularly added to established student surveys in order to capture data needed for short- and long-term housing and residential life planning.
  • Introduced Fisher senior administration and Board of Trustees to a data-driven approach for addressing its housing and residential life challenges, via an in-depth stakeholder interview process and a series of workshops in conjunction with the Master Plan.

To learn more about this case study, contact Demographic Perspectives today.