The Life in College: Frugal or Lavish?

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When I was a student, I worked at several jobs to make both ends meet. I counted every penny and worried about paying my rent, buying food, clothes, and other essential things. It was hard to balance studying, work, and hanging out with friends. My story is not a unique one. It is common for the majority of yesterday’s students.  


Let’s talk about today’s college youth. What kind of life do they lead? Prepare to be shocked (and jealous!).


For the last decade, colleges across the U.S. have been upgrading campuses to compete in an amenities arms race meant to attract prospective students. Gourmet dining, luxury fitness centers, and spa facilities are quite common.


There’s a water park at Texas Tech University’s campus, a steakhouse at High Point University and a 500, 000-square-feet recreation center on the campus of Ohio State University, replete with a spa, saunas, leisure pool, six-lane pool, hot tubs, cardio equipment etc. Simmons Hall at MIT has lounges equipped with PS3s PS3 gaming stations, 42” LCD TVs, and Rokus. Chapman University is proud of the tallest (51 feet) university-owned rock wall in Southern California. The halls of Pomona College offer open roof garden patios and drop down movie screens. 


In my teens, I could only dream about such list of amenities on a campus. Once I finished writing my essays, I hurried to work, not to the pool. Moreover, I used to create academic papers from scratch by myself. Nowadays there’s a growing tendency of ordering assignments at this site and other essay writing services.


Kevin Sharpe, professor of Renaissance studies at Queen Mary University of London, believes that students don’t like to save. The academic notices them ordering cappuccinos in upmarket coffee bars, indulging themselves with smoked salmon sandwiches, and chatting with friends on their iPhones. 


Most of us cringe at the memories of college time accommodations, stuffed in tiny bedrooms with sterile surroundings and just enough place to get your homework done. Sharpe says that typical student flats are now more like “posh pads” seen in Friends, than grimy bed-sits portrayed in the 1980s sitcom The Young Ones. And he’s right.


Luxurious off-campus apartment buildings with incredible amenities are the latest trend in college housing. Many of them feature roof deck lounge, swimming pools with cabanas, and game rooms. Others have useful accommodations for learners like study nooks and computer labs. Such room and board are offered only to students. And they came at an average price of $9,804 for the 2014-15 school year. 


But where do young people get the money for this? In some cases, from their parents. For some reason, they spend large sums renting top-notch housing for their offspring. The parents of my generation had a different approach. They agreed to pay for off-campus living only if it cost less than a year in the dorm.


Of course, high rent is not a serious issue for those parents who can afford it. Others dance to the tune of their children. They don’t want to stay alone in the dorm when all their friends are living in the fancy apartments with the modern amenities. As most of us can remember from our own college years, the youth is especially vulnerable to these dynamics.


A recent research has shown that nearly a third of students are wasting their student loans on shopping sprees, drinking sessions, gym memberships, and even cosmetic surgery and strip clubs. They cannot manage their finance wisely. Sharpe finds “luxurious lifestyles” the reason of the record graduate debts. 


Tuition fees are whopping. Housing, textbooks, and food also cost a serious expenditure. The temptations of a champagne and caviar life are met practically at every step. Students need more need more guidance on how to live on a budget and cope with debts placed upon them. A support is more useful for struggling youth than mockery. 


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