Colleges As Country Clubs: Today’s Pampered College Students

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Pampered College Students

Tuition costs are on the rise due to the aftermath of the recent recession and the current trend of states cutting educational funding. At the same time, there is a lot more competition due to the vast numbers of colleges and universities students have to choose from (approximately 5,300 in 2015). This led to institutions of higher learning needing to find new ways to attract students. They found that creating more attractive surroundings with luxuries offered as standard was the best way to attract more students.

Country Club or Student Center?

Colleges began investing large amounts of money into renovations and additions to their campuses and/or recreation facilities. A study at the University of Michigan found that lower ability students and/or higher income students had a greater willingness to pay for extra, more luxurious amenities.

Research shows that the more amenities a college adds, the more applications they receive. This has resulted in the trend of less selective schools spending millions of dollars to create campuses that look and feel more like country clubs or resorts:

High Point University (High Point, NC) has spent $700 million since 2007 to renovate their campus by creating a collegiate theme park. Some features include, a free first-run movie theater with free popcorn/snacks; free ice cream/hot chocolate truck; live puppy study breaks; a steakhouse where students can use meal points for a weekly five-course dinner; and a snack kiosk with free breakfast items such as muffins, fruit, and juice.

Purdue University (Lafayette, IN) spent $98 million on a recreation center featuring a 55-foot climbing wall, 25 person spa, two indoor tracks, and three exercise facilities.

Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, LA) is currently in the process of completing their $85 million recreation overhaul. Some features include, an outdoor swimming area with a lazy river in the shape of the school’s LSU initials, an 8-lane lap pool, 40,431sf cardio/weight area, 35- foot climbing wall, and 9 tennis courts.
University of Colorado (Boulder, CO) spent $63 million on their 300,000sf student recreation center featuring the only ice rink in Boulder, a rock climbing gym, 8-lane indoor pool, 14-foot diving well, and outdoor leisure pool with party patio.

University of Houston (Houston, TX) spent $53 million on a new recreation center featuring a 1.3 million gallon pool, 24,000sf weight room, four-lane jogging track, 53- foot climbing wall, and 6 aerobics rooms.
University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA) spent $53 million on a new recreation center with a 52-foot climbing wall, 18-foot diving well, bubble benches, and a lazy river.

University of Oregon (Eugene, OR) spent $50 million to renovate their 40,000sf recreation center and then added 110,000sf of new space. It features a 25-yard pool with 12-lanes; 16 person hot tub; 30-foot rock wall with 2,800sf of top-rope for lead climbing; boxing and studios; 8 basketball courts; 8 volleyball courts; 21 badminton courts; 6 racquetball courts; 6 tennis courts; and 33,000sf of cardio/weight training.

Texas Tech University (Lubbock, TX) spent a mere $8.4 million on a two-acre water park with 645-foot long lazy river, 25 person hot tub, 10-foot drop slide, 8-lane lap pool, diving well, tanning wet deck, water basketball/volleyball, and a poolside café.

These improvements have resulted in more applications, allowing less selective schools to reject more applications and increase entering SAT scores. They also attract more out-of-state students, which often pay higher tuition costs). However, high achieving academic students care more about intellectual achievements, so they are not motivated by non-academic amenities. As such, schools like Harvard do not need to spend millions on luxuries to attract high-level students.

Luxurious College Living

In addition to recreational amenities, students today expect their college living environment to be of an equal or better standard of living than what they have at home. Competition is tight and colleges are now offering better amenities to attract students/families who are willing to pay for extra luxuries as part of their college experience. According to the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers, the number one reason students reject a university is due to “poorly maintained or inadequate residential facilities.”

As a result, these college dorms have become some of the most luxurious living spaces across the country:

High Point University Residence Halls (NC) – Room/Board: $11,480

Full-size kitchen, dishwasher, laundry room, and plasma TVs.

One residence hall allows students to move their pets in with them.

Common lounge features pool tables, air hockey, comfortable furniture, and plasma TVs.

Campus Concierge service with complimentary GPS units, Kindles, iPads, TI-89 calculators, and dry cleaning service.

University of North Florida’s Osprey Fountains (FL) – Room/Board: $9,484

Theme lounges, including The Spotlight for karaoke/comedy/open-mic; The Upper-Deck with plasma TVs for sporting events, The Galaxy gamer’s retreat equipped with Wiis, PS3s, and Xbox 360s, and the B.L.O.C. for beanbag chair lounging time.

Outdoor lap pool, lazy river, putting green, running track, swings, and picnic tables.

MIT’s Simmons Hall (MA) – Room/Board: $13,224

Most floors have their own dining hall, a movie theater, and laundry rooms. Lounges offer huge TVs, PS3s, and Rokus for streaming music and movies. There’s also a giant ball pit to play in and relieve study stress.

Saint Leo University’s Residence Halls – Room/Board: $9,920

Featuring a 2,100-gallon aquarium created by Animal Planet’s, Tanked show.

A relaxation room featuring Nap Pods that play soothing music to calm stress. Common area includes fitness room, pool tables, pinball, skeeball, and video games. Outdoor sand volleyball courts.

Oberlin College Resed Housing – Room/Board: $13,106

Each residence hall provides a kitchenette, laundry, and a grand piano.

Students can rent artwork from the world-class campus museum to hang in their dorms. Available art pieces for 2015 include priceless works by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Marc Chagall, Roy Lichtenstein, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

13 themed communities are decorated to appeal to a variety of interests, including the Science Fiction/Fantasy Floor, Afrikan Heritage House, Outdoor Adventure Floor, Movie Hall, and the Classics Floor (for those interested in ancient Mediterranean civilizations).

Dorm Life History

1700 – The College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, VA) is the second oldest university in the U.S. after Harvard. The Wren Building is the oldest academic building still standing today and was built to house students, professors, the president, and kitchen staff. It’s most famous resident student was Thomas Jefferson (1760-1762). It contained living quarters, classrooms, a library, dining rooms, and the kitchen. It was named for King William III and Queen Mary II who issued a charter for the college to be built. While students did live in the building, the first official dorm built on campus was Brafferton Hall in 1723.

1720 – Harvard University’s Massachusetts Hall (Cambridge, MA) is the oldest building still standing at Harvard and the second oldest academic building still standing (after Wren). It was originally built to house 64 students and was used to house soldiers during the Revolutionary War. John Adams, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams all resided there. The building has been used for classrooms, offices, a telescope observatory, and the first experimental physics lab over the years. In 1924, it became a dormitory again and today it houses a select number of freshman students.

1908 – Ohio State University’s Oxley Hall (Columbus, OH) was the first women’s dormitory. Designed by Florence Kenyon Hayden Rector, a former student and the first licensed female architect in Ohio. The building housed students until 1967 when it was deemed no longer suitable for a residence hall. Originally, a single room cost $1.75 per week, and a double occupancy room cost $1.50 per week. Girls could have male visitors on Sundays only, and they could only enter the first-floor public area.

Helicopter Parenting

To understand the pampered millennial college student, you must understand helicopter parenting.

Millennials are defined as those people born approximately between 1981 and 2001.

During the early 1980s, child abductions were at their height and many parents reacted by pulling their children closer to keep them safe from perceived dangers.

According to the American College Counseling Association, millennial students are:

The first generation to have access to Internet/cell phones during formative years More ethnically diverse than any other generation

  • Over scheduled
  • Overconfident
  • Require excess affirmation
  • Impatient and demanding
  • Have short attention span and low tolerance for boredom
  • Want immediate information and solutions

Helicopter parenting is defined as parents who take an overprotective or excessive interest in a child’s life.

Today, psychologists and college officials see this as the main cause of millennial student behaviors. An overprotected, overindulgent upbringing has created a generation that lacks independent thinking, problem-solving skills, and an over exaggerated sense of entitlement. It has also resulted in an increase in emotional/psychological issues for millennials leaving the protected nest.

2013 study of 297 college students by the Journal of Child and Family Studies found that children of helicopter parents have significantly higher levels of depression, less life satisfaction, and suffer from higher anxiety.

2013 study of college counseling directors by the American Psychological Association found:

  • 95% reported that students suffering from significant psychological problems is growing.
  • 70% said the number of students with severe psychological problems has increased in the last year.
  • 24.5% said that their student clients were on psychotropic drugs.

2014 study by the American College Health Association surveyed 94,000 college students from 168 different colleges about their mental health status over the last 12 months:

  • 87.1% felt overwhelmed by all they had to do 82.6% felt exhausted (not from physical activity)
  • 63.2% felt very sad
  • 60.6% felt very lonely
  • 54.7% felt overwhelming anxiety

Alternatively, free-range parenting is defined as a parenting style where children are allowed to develop at their own pace with little direction and no rigid scheduling. Free-range parents believe that children are not in constant danger and rather than sheltering them, they are allowed to make mistakes and must solve their own problems when faced with adversity.

Other College Coddling Terms

Trigger Warnings: Alerts that professors are expected to issue if something in a course might cause them a strong emotional response based on past personal traumas.

College students today want trigger warnings to alert them ahead of time if something they might read in a classroom or see on campus might be too traumatic or upsetting.

Students want to be warned ahead of time if books, topics, sculptures, placards, or guest speakers may offend them in some way. Usually related to topics regarding sexual assault, rape, violence, racism, or suicide.

Oberlin College gave faculty a guide to help them understand triggers, avoid unnecessary triggers, and provide trigger warnings on the syllabus, assignments, and before discussions (so students can skip class and avoid extra stress by leaving during class).

It also recommended that triggers might cause trauma on topics of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression.

Chris Rock told New York magazine (Nov. 2014) that he no longer plays colleges because they were “too conservative” and were far too eager “not to offend anybody.”

Microaggressions: Small actions or words that seem to have no malicious intent on first look, but are thought of as offensive. Some campus guidelines prohibit seemingly harmless questions by faculty, such as asking an Asian American student where they were born, implying they are not real Americans.

Originated in the 1970s in reference to subtle, often unconscious racist comments.

Has expanded to include anything that may be perceived as discriminatory on any basis.

Safe Spaces: A place where students are shielded from words or ideas that might make some people uncomfortable.

On campus activities and/or speakers who might mention topics that are deemed offensive by some students might be offered an alternative activity that is in a safe space and away from the offending event/person/signs.

Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State, declined to speak at Rutgers University after students/faculty protested due to her association with the Iraq war.

The Mindset List

The 2015 freshman class entering college this year were mostly born in 1997. Here are some facts about the last of the millennial generation entering college. This might give further insight into why they are seen as being pampered. According to the Beloit College Mindset List, these students have:

1. Always been able to use Google.
2. Never had to lick a stamp.
3. Considered Wi-Fi as an entitlement.
4. Considered email as formal communication.
5. Struggled to find essay paper resources off-line.
6. Always been able to ride in a mass-produced hybrid car. 7. Always had an International Space Station flying overhead. 8. Always been able to use Splenda.
9. Always been able to see The Lion King on Broadway.
10. Always watched TV in high definition.

Top 10 Best Rated Dorms

2015 Niche Rankings: Surveyed 60,000 students at 903 colleges on dorms based on safety, healthy living, reasonably priced, housing quality, cleanliness, and amenities.

1. Washington University in St. Louis, MO – $13,580 2. Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME – $12,010
3. Union University in Jackson, TN – $8,760
4. Rice University in Houston, TX – $12,600
5. Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA – $9,728 6. Yale University in New Haven, CT – $13,000
7. Loyola University in Baltimore, MD – $12,120
8. Harvard University in Cambridge, MA – $13,630
9. Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL – $8,560
10. California Baptist University in Riverside, CA – $8,990

Top 10 Best Rated Campus Food

2015 Niche Rankings: Surveyed 64,000 students at 1,175 colleges on campus dining (includes their meal plan rates) based on a variety of healthy, quality food choices options that accommodate various dietary preferences.

1. Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA – $3,470
2. Washington University in St. Louis, MO – $4,540
3. University of California in Los Angeles, CA – N/A
4. Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME – $6,598
5. James Madison University in Harrisburg, VA – $4,422 6. University of Georgia in Athens, GA – $3,956
7. Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN – $3,230 8. Bates College in Lewiston, ME – N/A
9. University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN – N/A
10. University of California in Davis, CA – N/A

Ten Most Expensive College Dorms (2013-2014)

1. New York — New York School of Interior Design — $21,000 2. Massachusetts — The Boston Conservatory — $17,195
3. California — University of California Berkeley — $15,482
4. Pennsylvania — Drexel University — $14,415
5. DC — Catholic University of America — $14,326
6. Connecticut — Quinnipiac University — $14,250
7. New Jersey — Stevens Institute of Technology — $14,214
8. Illinois — School of the Art Institute of Chicago — $14,190
9. Rhode Island — Roger Williams University — $14,120
10. Tennessee — Vanderbilt University — $14,094

Ten Most Expensive Colleges in U.S. (2014/15)

According to Bloomberg, college tuition has increased 1,225% since 1978. In comparison, food has increased 257%, and shelter has increased 370% since 1978.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, these are the ten most expensive colleges in the U.S. for the 2014/2015 academic year. All prices include tuition, room, board, and other fees.

1. Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, N.Y.—$65,480
2. Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, Calif.—$64,427
3. Columbia University, New York, N.Y.—$63,440
4. University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.—$62,458
5. Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, Calif.—$62,215
6. Bard College, Annandale on Hudson, N.Y.—$62,012
7. Scripps College, Claremont, Calif.—$61,940
8. Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H.—$61,927
9. Landmark College, Putney, Vt.—$61,898
10. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Needham, Mass.—$61,881

What Students Want in Their Dorms

According to the J. Turner Research conducted for Multifamily Executive’s 2013 Concept Community. What Millennials Want: Resident Preferences in Student House Design and Amenities. Most important features of the ideal college residence:

1. In-unit washer and dryer – 79%
2. Private bathroom (one per roommate) – 76% 3. Extended cable and WiFi included – 54%
4. Big closets/storage space – 44%
5. Big refrigerator – 27%

Additional Facts/Figures

1995 – American colleges spent $6 billion annually on construction projects.

2006 – American colleges spent $15 billion annually on construction projects at its peak. 2013 – After the recession project climbed back to $11 billion in projects.

20% of construction costs go toward upgrading older buildings.

College enrollment of 18 to 24-year-olds increased by 3.1 million from 2001 to 2011. Student loan debt has reached $1.2 trillion nationally.