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.