Thank you for hosting my daughter and me for a campus tour. We had a great time. The campus was lovely. Our guide was perky, charming, and enthusiastic, and your facilities are amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I was a bit taken aback. I mean, WOW! For a minute I almost forgot we were touring a college campus, and not visiting a posh resort. I realize it has been almost 25 years since I was a bright-eyed young coed, but, at the risk of sounding like an old timer, my how things have changed.
The biggest change, of course, is that college tuition has gone up over 500 percent since 1985, far outpacing the income increase of the average family or the consumer price index. In an attempt to get my mind around such an increase, I found conflicting theories. An oped in the New York Times suggests it’s the seven figure salaries of college administrators that are driving up the cost. An article in The Washington Post points to a decrease in state funding and an increased need for IT staff. My guess is that it is a combination of factors, including the resort-like facilities that so impressed my daughter.
But as nice as having a Starbuck’s kiosk outside of every class might be, as a parent, I’d like to suggest a few areas where you could cut costs and in the process maybe give kids a more realistic taste of the real world.
Your NFL Caliber Workout Facility. No question physical fitness is important. And we all know that regular exercise can not only help combat the dreaded freshman fifteen, it can also help fight off depression and increase mental alertness. I’m all for a pool, a track, a racket ball court, and a few Zumba classes. But I am reasonably sure my daughter can get by without 24/7 access to the same gym equipment used by Peyton Manning. She’s majoring in education not training for the Olympics. I did think it was cute when our guide assured us that your NFL caliber workout facility was completely free. She must be a marketing major.
Four Star Quality Dorms. Cinderblock walls, poorly lit hallways, community bathrooms, and everyone on the floor crowded around one TV to watch The Young and The Restless – that’s what dorm life is supposed to be like. Heck, my freshman year we didn’t even have air conditioning. I’m pretty sure the model suite we toured on your campus was nicer than my first home. Look, I want my daughter to be comfortable at college. I just don’t want her to become so accustomed to living in the lap of luxury that she doesn’t even want to come home.
Cruise Ship-like Dinning Halls. I think my freshman year I survived on a diet of mashed potatoes, peanut butter sandwiches, and cereal. I’m not saying that’s ideal. Your extensive salad bar was a welcome sight. But why in the name of Julia Child do college students need their choice of foods from around the globe? Students can choose daily from Asian, Mexican, Italian, and American food. They can visit the sandwich bar or the cereal buffet. And don’t even get me started on the dessert options – cakes, pies, ice-creams, puddings, cookies, and assorted pastries. I certainly hope your students are making good use of your NFL caliber workout facilities.
Finals Week Royal Treatment. I don’t remember much about finals week. The whole thing is kind of a blur. I remember pulling all-nighters and lip syncing to Paula Abdul songs with my friends at 2:00 a.m. to try to wake up and push through till morning. We ate junk food and drank too much coffee and camped out at all night diners. I might have taken up smoking for that one week each semester. The point is, it was rough but it was also fun – the kind of fun you don’t actually realize is fun until it’s over. Finals week stress was a right of passage. We bonded. And we felt amazing (exhausted but amazing) when we finished our last test. On our campus tour I learned that my daughter’s finals week experience will be quite different. No need set up camp in Waffle House. Everything she could possibly need will be at her disposal. Stress? Not to worry. You will be providing her with on-sight massage therapy. If that doesn’t do the trick, she can go to the puppy center where you will provide a variety of puppies to pet, cuddle, and play with (okay that is pretty cool). There will be study break centers equipped with video games and movies. I think there was even something about a free Fallout Boy concert on the lawn, an anti-gravity machine, sky diving lessons, and passes to a local amusement park. Okay so maybe the exact details of what you will be offering escape me, but I definitely remember the puppies, the massage therapists, and an impressive variety of stress relievers and distractions. Sure there will be those pesky tests that will interrupt the festival-like atmosphere, but otherwise finals week is going to be epic!
The Free T-shirt. Maybe it seems like I’m being a little picky with this one. After all, who doesn’t like a free T-shirt? I’ll tell you what, if we choose your school, then give us the free T-shirt. In the meantime, consider saving all that T-shirt money and applying it toward a scholarship. Even it only helps one kid pay for his books, I’m willing to give up the shirt.
Again, I want to thank you for a wonderful campus visit. I think my daughter is ready to move in tomorrow. However, before we send you our daughter (and tens of thousands of dollars), my husband and I will need to redecorate her room, buy a cappuccino machine, and upgrade our gym membership – if we ever hope to see her again.
Laura Hanby Hudgens is a wife, mom of four, high school teacher, and a freelance writer. She lives with her family (including her parents) on a buffalo farm in the Ozark Hills. In her free time (as if!) she enjoys reading classic literature, pseudo-healthy baking, and knitting poorly.