Bathroom Type and the Student Housing Experience

For many years, one of the most common aspects of on-campus housing facilities was one particular bathroom type, specifically community bathrooms – one floor sharing a single, large bathroom. However, in recent years, as housing and residence life programs have begun to design and build facilities designed to increase student privacy, private bathrooms shared by just a few roommates or suitemates are becoming increasingly common. What impact has the increased prevalence of private bathrooms had on the student experience?

Figure 1 in this research note shows the breakdown of students in each bathroom type (community or private). Approximately half of on-campus residents indicated that their living area had a floor community bathroom, while the remaining students indicated that their living area was either a bedroom or suite which contained a private bathroom.

This research note explores how differences in living area configurations (specifically, the type of bathroom) relate to measures of both learning and satisfaction for on-campus residents.

When it comes to bathroom type, students with community bathrooms report higher levels of learning related to personal interactions and sense of community, while students with private bathrooms scored higher on the overall learning factor.

Bathroom Type Key Questions:

  1. How does bathroom type relate to student satisfaction?
  2. 2. How does bathroom type relate to student learning?

Key Points:

  • On-campus residents in our sample were evenly split between having community and private bathrooms.
  • Generally, more students with private bathrooms were highly satisfied with their housing experience.
  • While more students with community bathrooms reported high levels of indirect learning across many measures, more students with private bathrooms reported high overall learning from their housing experience.

How Does Bathroom Type Relate to Student Satisfaction?

Data from the ACUHO-I/Benchworks Resident Assessment shows that on-campus residents who have private bathrooms are more likely to be satisfied with certain aspects of their housing experience, including facilities and hall environment. However, students with community bathrooms reported higher satisfaction with roommates than students with private bathrooms.


The facilities factor measures student satisfaction with repairs, public spaces, and cleaning staff. Students living in on-campus housing with private bathrooms were more likely to be highly satisfied with housing facilities than students who lived in housing with community bathrooms. For example, 61% of students with private bathrooms were highly satisfied with the cleanliness of the building’s public spaces, and 62% were highly satisfied with the timeliness of building repairs.

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