College Dorms and the Living’s Easy

The words “upscale” and “college dorms” should never appear in the same sentence.  I nearly fell out of my chair while reading a recent article in the Boston Globe that described a local university dormitory that came equipped with a wood fired pizza oven.  While the article focused on how universities are battling for students, I couldn’t help but fixate on the wood fired pizza oven.  A pizza oven in your dorm room?  I could barely make Ramen noodles in mine!
Living near several college campuses, I have noticed the trend in upscale dorm living.  To be competitive, colleges are looking to find creative ways to attract students, I understand that.  Parents want more for their money, I’ll buy that. But providing part-time valet parking, a concierge that will take your dirty laundry, and automated-wake up calls as is the case at High Point University in North Carolina?  Give me a break!
To me, “upscale dorm life” was having exposed brick on one wall of my otherwise modest single room.   I only dreamed of picking a high enough lottery number in the room lottery to secure the college’s “prime real estate,” newly erected townhouses built with uncharacteristically wide hallways, but I was happy to secure a room of my own.  As for the automated wake up call?  That was my friend pounding on the door to make sure I was awake for lunch. 
With this new trend of condo-like dorms equipped with full kitchens, gyms, snacks, laundry, gourmet coffee, varying dining options, college students are missing  key character-building life experiences.  I am a better person for having lived in a dorm in which people left their ashtrays out in the lounge, bathrooms were co-ed, there were no elevators  to take you to the fourth floor, and you might have had to wear headphones to drown out the noise at three am while finishing a paper.  Part of the college experience is learning how to adapt to communal living away from the comforts of your parents’ house!
I wonder about the future of these college kids when they rent their first apartments.  They will face a harsh dose of needed reality when they find that no one else will take out the trash, housekeeping does not make the rounds each morning, toilet paper does not automatically refill itself, and omelettes cannot be made to order on the first floor of your apartment building. 

12 thoughts on “College Dorms and the Living’s Easy

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  1. Hey, in college, my husband had a pizza oven in his dorm room. Granted, it was one he had bought. And it sure as hell wasn’t wood-fired. And we cooked our cheap frozen pizzas in the hallway so that we didn’t trip the circuit breaker and shut off all the power….also pizza ovens weren’t really allowed so we had to make sure that the RAs were willing to look the other way. Ahhh…college. 🙂

  2. I feel like every college student should know what it feels like to have to cook a cheap frozen pizza in their hallway under the radar of their RA. Do these upscale dorms even have RAs? Probably just porters or bellhops or secret police.

  3. found your post from the Beloit site – and I couldn’t agree more. We made Thanksgiving turkey dinner in an 18″ wide oven in North hall one year, and grilled cheese sandwiches on the base of our popcorn poppers (yes, we were pre-microwave era) in Aldrich. And off-campus apartments were a step up, so we had something to aspire to. I wonder what jobs these pampered psych majors will graduate to that will let them maintain such a lifestyle?

  4. Thanks for reading, Jenn! Wow, making a Thanksgiving dinner in the dorms is bold and surpasses any inventive cooking I ever did in college. Although, I once contemplated boiling my clothes on the stove when my dorm’s laundry facilities were temporarily out of service…

    I’m afraid that if today’s “pampered psych majors” don’t find cushy jobs after college that someone will front the bill for them while they seek to maintain their comfy college lifestyle. Or at least their newly opened credit card will.

  5. Ha! I agree posh dorm living is over the top! When I started at beloit I made my ramen right in my little plastic hot plate thing (which may have been against the rules…) It is also, like you said, a poor substitute for the reality you face after college. I do wonder though after 4 years in Beloit housing – and now knowing my friends who went to bigger schools had to find apartments/houses, pay rent, pay cable, pay electricity etc. while in college – how realistic/preparatory for real life our experience was?

  6. I often wonder the same thing. While we did experience having to make do with what little resources we had, we never had to find apartments, pay rent, deal with landlords, and figure out how exactly to get groceries after all left over money was used to pay bills.

    However, I would take the Beloit experience any day over a big university experience even if that meant struggling a little bit in my first years in the real world.

  7. I was one of those who stayed over summers, and did have to deal with apartments, utilities, etc. And many of my friends moved off campus for their last year or two, so it was a great transition to the real world for us.
    I’m starting to look at colleges for my oldest child now, and will encourage her to find a small community like Beloit (if not Beloit itself)!

  8. I can’t say enough positive things about attending a college with a small community like Beloit. Although you might not deal with paying rent or utilities, I think you gain so many other skills that give you an edge in the real world! I still feel very connected to my Beloit community, despite the fact that many of us are now worlds apart.

  9. Nice! I totally remember living in 609…with no air conditioning. Now that I am on my own….nothing was too hard to get over. Even when I moved to Istanbul and walked into my new flat with no stove, no warm water, and no real bedroom…I was like “well I can deal with this for 2 months.” Don;t worry. I have heat and a stove top now. Still eating Ramen.

  10. That’s the best part about living in a dorm like 609, you are ready to take on anything like what you described in Istanbul. Now that I think about it, I don’t think I ever had air conditioning in college either, but thankfully it never got that warm in Beloit, WI.

    Glad to hear you’re still eating Ramen. I am, too.

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