Pet-Friendly Campuses Provide a Draw for Students

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College is going to the dogs.

And cats. And snakes. And turtles. And rabbits. And pretty much any other pet you can think of under 40 pounds.

Lyon College in Arkansas announced in January that it would join a small number of colleges that allow students to bring pets with them to live on campus.

Eckerd College Pet Commencement 2017

Lyon officials think the move will be an enrollment draw and they are going all in.

In addition to opening a pet-friendly residence hall, the college will offer obedience classes, a fenced-in dog park, and a new coffee shop that will welcome both students and pets.

“Students expect more today,” Eric Bork, Lyon’s associate vice president of marketing and communications, said in a news release. “For many students, their pet is their closest companion. If they want to share their college experience with their best friend, of course we want to help make that possible.”

Though it isn’t fully mainstream — at least not yet — Lyon is not alone in its pet-friendly offerings.

Lees-McRae College in North Carolina not only offers pet-friendly on-campus housing options, it also encourages professors to incorporate pets into their lessons.

Students at Lees-McRae told College Magazine that the school’s pet policy influenced their decision to attend.

“My dog is helping me become a responsible adult, too—I now have a budget plan, so that I can afford to buy his (and my) essentials,” junior Melissa Hooper told the magazine. “He’s great at meeting new people, sparks new conversations, and helps professors and fellow students feel more comfortable in classroom settings.”

Eckerd College in Florida is known for pioneering the pet-friendly campus trend.

The school has permitted students to bring pets for several decades and even holds an annual graduation ceremony for the pets of graduating students.

Pet graduates receive a certificate, an Eckerd College ID tag, and a cap-and-gown photo shoot with their owner and the college president.

“This really is one of my favorite events at Eckerd College,” Donald Eastman, the college’s president, said in a news release. “[This event] tells you more about what sort of place this is than any other.”

Ashley Dobson is NACAC’s communications manager for content and social media. You can reach her at

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