I wrote some time ago here about the advent of extremely luxurious student accommodation in the US. This was linked to anxieties about students having it all just too easy. Certainly the trend in the UK has been away from shared rooms and bathrooms and towards individual en suite rooms and studio apartments in new complexes with gyms and social spaces.
Apartment-style dorm rooms are the Hot New Thing at some colleges nowadays. Single rooms instead of doubles or even quads, exterior doors instead of crowded hallways, private bathrooms instead of gang showers and those icky shared toilets, even mini-kitchens instead of the noisy dining hall – all have an undeniable appeal for incoming freshmen looking to maximize the more adult features of undergraduate life.Many contemporary students grew up with their own bedrooms, and perhaps even their own bathrooms, and may recoil from sharing their personal spaces with that mysterious stranger, the roommate or hallmate. So colleges and universities, particularly sensitive to the preferences of full-pay students, are starting to move away from traditional long-hallway dorms to more individualized rooms, some with generous amenities. Prospective students seem to love the idea.
But, the argument runs, essentially this is not good for the students or their personal and academic development. The shared experience of this kind of residential life makes making friends a lot easier and provides students with a supportive environment when they most need it, at the start of their university life.
I think it’s a persuasive argument but a difficult sell to potential students. The line that it may be old, traditional and lower spec accommodation but it’s good for you is not necessarily the best pitch to applicants. Especially if this is the alternative:
Too much luxury?
But for many institutions (and students) there may not be much choice.
Throw parties with the best girls on campus as you build your own sorority house! At this college, the party never stops as you recruit star athletes, crazy partiers and the smartest girls around! Have a luau on the beach, host sorority formals, and live the campus life you always dreamed of!
– DESIGN the best house on campus – just the way you want!
– MAKEOVER your hair and makeup to go from frumpy to FASHIONISTA!
– Buy FABULOUS clothes: from high fashion to cute workout wear!
– RECRUIT smart, pretty and popular girls to join your house and make new friends!
– Host AWESOME EVENTS – from beach parties to raves to black tie soirees… and many more!
– DECORATE your house with great stuff, from luxury spas to chocolate fountains!
– Run the best sorority on campus and you can WIN THE CAMPUS CUP!
– Play for free, yes FREE, forever!
This really does sound like a staggeringly accurate representation of campus life as we all know it. Looks great!
The giveaway seems to have had an impact on the way students relate to each other and they are now obsessed with their devices:
The university’s unusual effort to give every freshman an iPhone or iPod Touch has been a huge success, officials say, and they recently decided to continue the project in the fall. But the devices are altering campus life at the 4,800-student college—and students say that not all of the shifts are positive.
“It has changed how people interact with one another on a day-to-day basis,” said Daniel Paul Watkins, a senior who is president of the student government. “Now walking around campus, nine out of 10 students either have their iPod headphones in or they’re texting or they’re talking on the phone,” he said. Sure, that’s happening at colleges across the country, but Mr. Watkins, who bought his iPhone, believes it is even more pronounced at a campus that has pushed the latest cellphones. “The West Texas charm of ‘Hey, howdy, everybody knows your name,’ has shifted inward—everyone’s enthralled by their device.”
The other concern is that iPhones simply make it easier to cheat:
“Since the iPhones were introduced, I honestly think that academic integrity has gone down,” said Mr. Watkins. “I’ve seen people cheat, and I’ve heard people talk about how easy it is to cheat.”