What Sets Us Apart
At Campus Advantage, we are a higher education company. We are proud to be a leader in student housing, but in actuality, we do more than that. We don’t just give students four walls and a roof over their heads—we set them up for success and provide them with the skills they will need for the rest of their lives.
We’ve known for a long time the importance of providing our residents with life skills. Recently I attended an international conference on postgraduate employability where it was reported that many employers are not confident that they can find applicants with work-ready skills. Although schools are preparing students with technical knowledge, many students leave school lacking in soft skills such as leadership and the ability to work collaboratively with diverse teams.
Our Students First™ Residence Life program offers activities and training for our residents that not only keep them engaged while in school, but also prepare them for life after graduation. As a company, we are providing value to colleges and universities that other companies do not offer, including the soft skills that employers are looking for today.
This past month, we took our training one step further with our Launch U™ program hosted at our Austin office. By training our own staff to be better leaders and putting them in a position to succeed, we are continuing the cycle that starts with our residents at the property level.
As Campus Advantage residence life programs continue to improve students’ life skills, we look forward to future academic as well as post-graduation success stories.
President and CEO
Property Spotlight: Automatic Lofts
Automatic Lofts is located in one of Chicago’s most celebrated historical landmarks, offering urban loft living against a historic backdrop of sandblasted brick and original timber beams that is just steps away from the convenience of Chicago’s Blue Line, West Loop near Greektown, and the hip restaurants of Randolph Street. Four sections of the Automatic Lofts building date back 125 years, when it served as an electric company where the first automatic telephone was made—hence the property’s name and logo.
The Automatic Lofts team markets the property to 18 different Chicago schools, including the Illinois Institute of Art, Columbia College, DePaul University, and the International Academy of Design & Technology—to name just a few. For the past three years the property has maintained a master lease with the Illinois Institute of Art to house 100 of its students each year. EF International has also master leased 60 beds for the past two years.
The property’s marketing team is made up of creative members who are excellent at crafting marketing materials and video and creating a sense of community through events. As an example, last year’s open mic night turned out 200 people. These activities helped the property achieve 100 percent occupancy last year.
Automatic Lofts’ management and community assistants also are superior in working with companies and vendors to make community events exciting, successful, and low-cost. For example, a one-year Zipcar subscription was given away as a prize at a recent meet and greet. Red Bull and Monster (energy drinks) are huge sponsors for the property, providing drinks for residents and prospects. Film companies provide branded apparel for new movies, and the property has movie nights to highlight the new movies and hand out this merchandise.
The team also works very well together, especially with its engineering team, which maintains a clean and organized shop and handles painting and carpet replacements in-house.
Visit Automatic Lofts to learn more about the community.
Tips for A Successful Move-In
By Katy Smerko
Move-in season is a rite of passage for many people who are new to the student housing industry. It’s a time when residents—and usually their parents—descend on student housing communities around the country to move into their apartments as they prepare for the fall semester to start.
I’ve lived through many move-ins throughout my 12-year career in student housing and have come up with my list of the top 5 tips for a successful move-in.
1. Make sure you are organized.
Have all of your stations ready to go before move-in day and make sure you have a system for moving residents through the stations. The faster they get through, the happier they will be. No one likes to wait in line.
2. Make sure you have COLD beverages and lots of snacks.
Most move-ins will occur during hot weather—REALLY hot weather. Have plenty of cold drinks. Fill coolers up the night before so you are not rushing in the morning. People also will be hungry, so have a variety of snacks to keep them happy. One trick is to fill a wagon with ice and cold drinks and pull it around the property on move-in day. Your residents and guests will appreciate the small gesture.
3. Make sure the keys work.
Before move-in, walk all of your move-in units to check that the keys are cut, that they work, and that they have been put into packets. Your move-in will go south quickly if people are waiting outside of units, wasting their time waiting on you to cut keys.
4. Set the stage for Students First™.
This is the one time when you have a captive audience of the students and the parents, so show off your residence life program. Display photos of your property’s past residence life events. Proudly display your scrapbooks and your residence life events calendar so parents see the types of activities their students will be participating in. Also, encourage residents and parents to “like” your social media pages.
5. Most importantly, make it FUN!
This is the day you have worked hard for all leasing season. Play music in the office, grill by the pool, hire a local DJ to play music, and decorate your office. Take advantage of all of your move-in items from Catalyst and add even more. We have seen balloon arches, custom cakes, decked-out golf carts…just be creative. Include your mascot, as this is a great time for photo ops. Ask vendors to participate in your move-in as well. They will often bring free food, and who doesn’t love that!
Campus Advantage’s Leasing Rock Stars
Campus Advantage is recognizing its top 10 leasing consultants. These individuals have signed the largest percentage of leases at their properties and are known as Campus Advantage’s Leasing Rock Stars.
Performing well during the spring leasing season is key for student-housing properties. Campus Advantage continues to set the industry’s high standard for new and returning resident leases.
Congratulations to everyone, and keep up the good work!
Campus Advantage-Russia Selects Its First Group of Resident Assistants as Part of New Program
More than 200 students applied for spots in Far Eastern Federal University’s—and Russia’s—first-ever resident assistant program. Campus Advantage-Russia (CA-R) is providing strategic guidance to help the university, which is located in Vladivostok, and OMC Campus Management create a residence life program that rivals other world-class institutions.
Part of this charge includes creating a resident assistant program that will launch in the fall. The 36 students selected as resident assistants started training at the end of June so that they will be ready to work with their first residents when fall classes start.
Resident assistant programs are new to Russia, so CA-R enlisted the help of Catalyst to build awareness about the effort and to encourage students to apply to serve as the university’s first group of resident assistants. The advertising campaign not only yielded more than 200 candidates but also resulted in positive public relations for CA-R, OMC Campus Management, and FEFU. A story on the program was even picked up by Russia’s largest news outlet.
The CA-R team believes this program will build a foundation to position FEFU for continued growth and enhancement of its residential student experience as the university and its partners implement CA-R’s recommendations for a strong residence life program.
Campus Advantage-Russia Helps FEFU Celebrate the End of the School Year
Campus Advantage-Russia (CA-R) joined forces with OMC Campus Management and Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) to sponsor an end-of-year outdoor rock concert and picnic for FEFU students on June 6 in Vladivostok, Russia.
The event was designed to foster a sense of camaraderie and community among the more than 25,000 students attending the university. The end-of-the-school-year celebration also featured activities such as archery, kite making, badminton, and Frisbee. The event featured a performance by the band Ivan Panfilov, and DJ Max-S also provided music for the evening, which ended with a fireworks display. The festivities lasted until midnight.
The event provided CA-R, OMC Campus Management, and FEFU with an opportunity to promote the university’s new residence life program. CA-R staff members are providing strategic guidance for the development of the new program.
Relay for Life Update
Campus Advantage was well represented at college and community Relay for Life event sites across the country in April and May. With 43 teams, Campus Advantage employees actively engaged in the fight against cancer alongside the American Cancer Society in this globally recognized program. Campus Advantage is proud to be in its third year as a National Corporate Team Partner for Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society.
While each property was required to raise money and host a team at their local event, some properties went above and beyond, bringing home awards for their hard work. For example, at the University of South Florida Relay for Life event, 4050 Lofts brought home the “Best Apartment Complex” award, while 42|North was awarded “Best Decorated.” At the University of Kentucky Relay for Life event, Red Mile Village brought home the “Most Spirited” award. Check out the photos of our Campus Advantage teams enjoying themselves at their Relay events.
The deadline for fundraising for the 2013-2014 season is Aug. 31, 2014. The Campus Advantage Residence Life Department will continue to have monthly calls to encourage teams to raise any additional funds they can this summer through fun events and by working with local vendors and businesses.
To help Campus Advantage reach its $50,000 donation goal, please use or share this donation link with others: http://main.acsevents.org/goto/campusadvantagecorporate.
Students First™ Conference Inspires, Motivates Residence Life Leaders
The 2014 Students First™ Conference was a huge hit this year. Campus Advantage hosted it at the beautiful COD Ranch in Oracle, Arizona. Even with spotty cell phone service and Internet access in the middle of the desert, 29 Campus Advantage property leaders left the conference only a few days later with newfound confidence and enthusiasm, tons of information and resources, and new colleagues and friends.
The conference kicked off with keynote speaker Troy Stende, national leadership development trainer, who facilitated some great icebreakers and team-building exercises and discussed the keys to leadership and positive thinking. The session ended on a discussion about breaking through barriers in order to achieve Campus Advantage goals. Each participant wrote their barrier on a piece of wood and symbolically and physically broke through it!
The conference attendees were also asked to provide feedback on the conference to allow the Campus Advantage Residence Life Department to continue to improve for next year.
• “This is everything I was looking for and more! Thanks for being just what the doctor ordered.”
• “I thought the Students First™ Conference was one of the best experiences at a conference I have had. I learned a lot and am really excited for all the great ideas I came back with to enhance the residence life at my property. Thank you!”
• “The 2014 Students First™ Conference was such an amazing experience and completely topped my expectations. I loved the people I met and the memories I made. This changed my entire outlook on my job as an RD and Campus Advantage as a company. I am so thankful for the opportunity.”
Each month, Campus Advantage will recognize members of its team who have gone above and beyond in carrying out their jobs. Staff members will be nominated by their supervisors or other staff.
This month’s newsletter recognizes Director of Management Systems Madison Meier and Regional Leasing and Transition Specialist Lindy Lee.
On top of her daily job duties, Madison has played a key role in helping with the capital expenditures for Campus Advantage’s three most recent acquisitions and has spent countless days working on University Crossing, helping with lease-up. She’s also been instrumental to Catalyst with her training and move-in guidance.
Specifically, she spent two days training the team on SharePoint and OneSite to provide them with a full understanding of how the programs are used and how the team could further use SharePoint to share information on properties. Madison was also helpful in identifying what aspects of Campus Advantage should be highlighted for this year’s move-in theme. She has helped with pulling various lists for marketing initiatives and guiding the team on where to find the most up-to-date information at the property level. She also put together a very thorough acquisition checklist and was diligent in ensuring all departments were represented to make transitions as smooth as possible.
Lindy puts in a tremendous effort year round to provide support and encouragement to all the properties she supports. In her role as Regional Leasing Specialist, Lindy provides out-of-the-box ideas and on-site leasing and marketing support, and helps to train the leasing and community assistant teams. During the height of leasing season, Lindy’s team consistently puts in a tremendous number of hours to ensure that all of the properties (near or far) receive the leasing assistance that they need. Her energy and passion for leasing is effective and she is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure her properties have a successful lease-up.
Lindy has worked for Campus Advantage for five years and oversees a large portfolio of Campus Cal 1, 2, and 150 sites, as well as the LaSalle sites. She is a fundamental part of the leasing and marketing, and she has also taken on the job of mentoring many of the floating leasing managers. Year after year, her portfolio meets budgeted occupancy and often exceeds it.
Congratulations to Our Employees
The following people are celebrating anniversaries with the company this summer. We’re proud to have them as part of the Campus Advantage family and thank them for their service.
[bscolumns class=”one_third”]5 Years
[/bscolumns] [bscolumns class=”one_third”]2 Years
Conde Rigne Kapa
[/bscolumns] [bscolumns class=”one_third_last”]Erick Martin Jr.
Carlton Edwards Jr.