Friday, November 7, 2008

College dorms

Man, I just got my eyes opened as to the conditions on campus nowadays. Look at this Time photo essay on the evolution of college dormitories. To say I was amazed at college housing conditions today is an understatement.

Yes, this is a dorm.

I was in college in the 70's. We didn't have pool tables, rock climbing walls, weight rooms or fireplaces. I had a 11' x 18' room, laid out in a bilaterally symmetrical format. Along each opposing long wall (all built-in, no moving the furniture), was a closet, a set of drawers with a mirror over it, a twin bed and a desk with a bookshelf over it. Two people co-existed in that 198 sq. ft. box, with a shared bathroom down the hall. The rooms ran around the outside edges of the building (you got one window per room) and there was a 15'x 15' common area in the center of each floor of the building with a couple of couches. Laundry was in the basement. That was it. The cafeteria was two buildings away in the center of the complex, and there wasn't much pampering happening there either. You got what was on the line, no special orders. There was a TV room in the cafeteria building, but this was 1971, remember, so the television pickings were slim. About once a month, the dorm manager hauled out a projector and showed a movie on a screen.

And, oh yes, freshmen and sophomores weren't allowed to keep a car on campus. My big luxury was a small refrigerator in the room.

And you know what? It worked just fine. I am from Eastern Kentucky, as were many kids at that college. I dare say that for some people who moved into that dorm, the conditions were probably as good, and maybe even better, than their room at home. I'd guess the food wasn't as good, but in every other aspect it was a functional, no-frills home away from home. We were there for the purpose of studying, and other than a pretty good basketball team, there weren't many distractions from that task.

In contrast, if you came from a home where your parents gave you every little thing your heart desired (and that they didn't have at your age), and then you went off to a college that coddled and pampered you, what are you going to do when you hit the big, bad world and have to provide for yourself in the manner in which you have become accustomed? Well, a lot of them can't. I hear of more and more parents still keeping the kids financially afloat as they reach 25, 30, 35 and beyond.

I think about this in comparison to the first house my parents lived in when Dad came home from the Army. It had three rooms. Dad built it himself. And, at first, it didn't have indoor plumbing. They survived. And as they could afford it, they moved up in the world.

I am afraid in this economy a lot of people will be having to relearn what are the minimum requirements to live. And that doesn't include rock climbing walls.

5 comments:

Suzan said...

Wow! My dorm room sounds like yours...except we were not allowed (nor was there room enough) for any appliances! The bed actually looked like a day bed as it slid against the wall by day with a cupboard against the back to hide your pillows and extra blanket. With both beds pulled out, there was barely room to walk. We did have laundry facilities on each floor and a small common room with a TV, fridge and tiny range. No men were allowed past the foyer doors unless it was your dad helping you move in or out!

paula, the quilter said...

My dorm room sounds just like that too. I think people need to relearn (or learn) how to budget. As a newlywed in the 70's we saved every cent to be able to buy something important to us, using no credit. It worked then and it can work now. It's just not an instant gratification.

Karen said...

Bravo! Wonderful post...you hit the nail right on the head. The children of today have a sense of entitlement that's never been seen before. It's going to be interesting to see how they handle our dying economy.

Tanya said...

Actually I was sort or surpsrised that my daughter's dorm wasn't a bit more "modern". Hey, I think my dorm room 30 years ago had more built in, laminated stuff. Hers is wooden desk, wooden bunk bed. Nothing elaborate... She's not too thrilled but living with it. Commenter Suzan's room sounded like mine...

Shasta said...

My daughter's dorm room doesn't have anything that I didn't - well except for a piano in the common area. They look very much like the dorms I - and you - had. The only difference is that now men and women are allowed in the same wing - you are even allowed overnight visitations with people of the opposite sex (there is a limit of three times a week!)