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College Back in the Day Verses Today

college 1Back in the day, aka 1995, college life was VERY different in comparison with today.  As we go through the process of searching for a college that is the right fit for my daughter, Paige, I have come to a few realizations.  I will briefly describe these realizations and then give some concrete examples of what the reality for a college freshman looks like.

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My realizations

  1. Colleges now are all about recruitment and getting as many students to their college as they can.  They must all try to out do the other one by luring these kids with “the best of everything.”  This idea that kids “have to have the best experience” translate with increased costs of keeping up with the Joneses.  This directly translates to higher tuition costs that we have to pay.

          ( See examples below)

  1. This generation of kids are spoiled rotten.  Most of them will never have to live in an apartment in a shady part of town.  They will live in apartments with granite countertops and laminate flooring that looks like hardwood.  

My husband lived in a house in college that had a big hole in the floor.  Corrin and I lived in a dorm the first year of college.  After that, we decided to get an apartment with two of our friends, Lindsey and Mendy.  There were four of us and we found an apartment that was $400 a month.  It was a two bedroom (and hold on….gasp)…there were two girls to each bedroom.  We had twin beds.  I can imagine my daughter and her friends saying “I would NEVER” share an apartment ROOM.”  The apartment was pretty shady and I remember us constantly joking about it.  We constantly had bug problems and I think someone got shot at our apartment complex one time.  After a year, we decided to “move up” and found a nicer apartment complex for $525 a month for a two bedroom.    

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  1. This generation wants (and expects) what their parents have now as soon as they graduate from college.

My mom was a stay at home mom and my dad had a good job.  When we were small, though, I remember my parents being on a tight budget.  We only went out to eat on special occasions.  My parents gradually upgraded their home as my dad’s career progressed.  Brad and I have worked for our entire adult life.  For most of the eight years we have been together, I worked and therefore the two incomes definitely allowed us more luxuries and an opportunity to save money.  I am amazed that my children expect to have the same lifestyle as they do now when they graduate from college.  They don’t get that we have been out of college for almost twenty years.  

This can be summed up with a quick story.  When we were building our house, we had to look for a place to rent and one of the places we looked at was a house.  One of the kids ( I won’t out them), kept complaining that the house was not nice and hoped that we didn’t rent it.  Me “The house is great.  What do you think is wrong with the house?”  Child “The house has all carpet.  There are no hardwoods or even tile.”  Me “Brad, we have completely failed these kids.”

  1. This generation has very expensive taste and a fancy palett.  

I remember countless nights of cooking macaroni and cheese in our dorm.  If we wanted to eat fast food, we usually opted for the 99 cent kids meal from Sonic.  We could get a corn dog, french fry, and cherry coke for less than a dollar.  I had to buy my own toiletries so I only bought Revlon or Covergirl makeup and 99 cent Suave shampoo and conditioner.  I rarely ever got my hair done because I had to pay for it.  This generation of kids get pedicures on a regular basis, make up from places like Ulta and Sephora, and spend lots of money going out to eat.  I am not opposed to a teenager working hard at a job and choosing to spend some of their money on makeup or pedicures.  I do, however, have a problem with teenagers who automatically think that these things are necessities and parents need to pay for them.  We don’t owe our children fancy lives at eighteen.  

Colleges today V. in 1995

Touring different college campuses today has opened my eyes as to how insane the entire system has become.  

My husband said it perfectly “We still got a great education and had school spirit in buildings and sports facilities that were not fancy.”

Every time I pass the multi-million of dollar high school sports stadium right by my house, I get mad.  Why do we have to pay crazy amounts of property taxes so high school kids can play in stadiums that are better than my college stadium when I was in school?”  

Ultimately

 WE ARE THE PROBLEM.  We are giving into this next generation of kids and teaching them that they must have the best of everything…..yesterday…and we are handing it to them on a silver platter.

Back to the college tours

I will break it up by categories:

Tuition:  

1995:  My college (University of Louisiana at Lafayette) was 1800 a year.  My husband’s school (Baylor) was $8000 a year (because it was a private school).

Today: University of Louisiana at Lafayette: $6948.  Baylor: $40,391

Dorms:

1995: My dorm was pretty nice because it was an Honors dorm.  However, compared to today’s dorms, it was not fancy at all.  Most of the freshman dorms had cinder block walls and most did not have private suites or private bathrooms.  I remember putting on my shower shoes, grabbing my caddy, and heading to the communal bathroom.  It reminded me of the locker rooms in high school.  We had a couple of washer and dryers in the dorm but never enough for more than one or two people to use at a time.  I remember many of nights doing laundry with my friends at the VERY shady laundromat by the convenience store.  college 3Today:

Students (even freshman) have many options when it comes to campus housing.  There are several buildings that have suites where four rooms share one bathroom or are apartment style. When we toured a Texas Tech dormitory, it was traditional one where two people shared a room and there was a communal bathroom down the hall.  The communal bathroom reminded me of a nice hotel bathroom (not a high school gym bathroom) and the dorm room was REALLY nice.  It had laminate flooring (that looked like hardwoods) and was beautiful.  The laundry facility down the hall was free (no quarter machines like we had.)  

Food options:

1995:  During my freshman year of college, we had to purchase the campus food plan.  This included three meals a day in the cafeteria.  They did have a Student Union that had a small area with pizza and a few other optionss.  My meal plan allowed me to have a small amount of money to go to the Student Union and get pizza every once in awhile.  Ninety percent of the time, though, I ate in the cafeteria.  The food was not fancy at all.  It reminded me of eating in a high school cafeteria.

Today:

The food options today are INSANE.  Most colleges have several fast food options including Chick-fil-A, sushi, and Starbucks.  I think we struggled not to gain the freshman ten.  I have no idea how freshman don’t gain at least twenty pounds with all of the fast food options they have today.  I know that the colleges have cafeterias but these don’t look like the cafeterias in 1995.  EVERYTHING is fancy today, even the cafeterias.

Recreation Centers and Amenities

1995:  Our recreation center at UL was bare bones.  It had a workout area, weight area, track, and place to do intramurals.  I can describe it as being one level nicer than my high school’s facilities.

Today:

One word: Insane

The recreation centers that I have toured have been state of the art.  They are amazing.  The one at Texas Tech even had a place where you could rent out ski equipment if you wanted to go skiing in New Mexico since it is close.  The tour guide talked about how excited she was every year for the pool to open. She even goes in April when it is chilly.  I thought that was a little strange.  A pool is a pool right?  Wrong.  The lazy river/ pool area at Texas Tech are amazing.  She talked about floating the lazy river with laminated study cards.  Of course these kids have a lazy river.  When we were growing up, we only had a lazy river when we went on vacation.  It was a HUGE deal.

college 2Games/School Spirit

1995:  UL and Baylor had tons of school spirit in facilities that were not fancy.

Today:

Schools have to have the biggest and the best sporting facilities.  Apparently you can’t have school spirit unless you are in a fancy place.  

Technology:

1995

I remember my friend Lindsey had a word processor in her dorm room and this was a big deal.  We were all envious that she had a word processor.  She was sweet enough to share it with us whenever we needed to type and print out papers.

Our school had a computer lab that we would go in.  This was when the internet was brand new. My friends and I would go into the computer lab and sit on opposite sides of the room.  We would fire up Netscape and go into “chat rooms” and talk to each other.   We thought it was so neat that we could talk to each other from opposite sides of the room in a chat room.

As time went on, our families got dial up internet (AOL).  I remember we would spend HOURS trying to connect to the internet.  How frustrating was it to spend over an hour to get the dial up to work, be on the internet for a minute or so and then to be cut off.  These were the days of patience.  I really wish my kids could experience of phone dial up internet so they could appreciate the fast internet they have today. They also have no clue that we actually had wonderful lives before the internet and cell phones.

When I first got to college, most kids had pagers.  We were not doctors but needed a way to communicate with each other.  We were so cool.  

Now

The technology in college today is amazing.  I don’t even have to expand because I think you understand.  I do think, though, that professors must have a hard time competing with cell phones and computers of students who would rather be surfing the web than listening to them.  

In conclusion

I am saddened that we as a society (and I am guilty of doing this too) have created a system where our kids will never appreciate things like we do.  Our kids, who may never have to live in a junky dorm or apartment, don’t realize that their demands for state of the art facilities, restaurants and stadiums on campus will only hurt them in the long run.  At $40K per year, can you imagine how much debt a kid must strap himself with to attend Baylor University for four years?  I’m not sure a kid could ever pay off that kind of debt.  A little “suffering” builds character and makes a person appreciate everything she has later on in life.  I am extremely thankful that when I was a child, my sister, friend Julie and I created The Cleaning Crew, a company were we cleaned people’s houses for $5.00.  At fifteen I worked in very non glamorous hot dog stand in the middle of a crazy Lousiana hot summer.  I put on the Keebler Elf costume in this same heat.  I had to work in high school part time to pay for my gas and spending money.  I had to work part time in college to pay for my living expenses.  My first job teaching grossed me $21,000 a year.  I cleared $1200 a month and $150 of that paid for health insurance. I will never think that I am too good for ANY job.  I will do whatever job that I am needed to do.  Every morning I wake up and thank God for my life and I never take for granted how blessed I am.  I do, though, want my children to have the same appreciation.  

My question for you is this:  Are you shocked at college life today?

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