Pampered College Kids

Boy, are college kids living like kings. I feel bad for them. According to The Associated Press, many universities are tearing down traditional dormitories in favor of upscale living quarters — posh facilities that offer private suites, granite countertops, designer furniture and satellite TV.

Today's college kids don't have to worry about much. Maid and laundry services are now available. Heck, kids don't even have to pack up the station wagon when moving in. Moving companies do that for them.

Why are universities pampering these kids? They have to to attract students.

More than 90 percent of today's students had their own bedroom. They aren't used to sharing. They aren't used to working hard to attain things, either. Their dual-income parents gave them every nicety our prosperous civilization offers.

My college experience was certainly different.

To come up with my Penn State tuition, my father worked overtime, while I labored as a stone mason. Even with college loans, I had just enough money to buy what I needed (a college education) but never enough to buy what I wanted (nice clothes, a car, even a Friday-night pizza).

I worked some unpleasant jobs in college: dishwasher, janitor, handyman, grass cutter. I worked as a bouncer, too, which involved kicking drunk people out of bars and mopping up that which some patrons couldn't keep down.

I sold my plasma. During the first semester of my junior year, I went to a medical clinic twice a week. They sucked out my blood, spun off the plasma, then gave me my blood back. Not only did I make $10 bucks every time I went, I noticed that one beer had the effect of three — that translated into great savings at the pub.

Of course, selling my plasma nearly killed me. When my mother discovered how I'd gotten so pale and gaunt, my father had to keep her from strangling me.

 To save money my senior year, I managed a rooming house. It was a big old dump of a place. It was allegedly haunted, too. A high school fellow who lived there shot himself in 1932 — in the same room I lived in. I never saw the ghost, though.

That job involved shoveling coal to keep the furnace going, picking up knocked-over garbage cans to keep the rats and raccoons away, and settling disputes with some very colorful tenants who were always squabbling about something.

My parents visited me there once and when they saw my room, the centerpiece of which was a lumpy bed sitting on cinder blocks, and the bathroom I shared with 14 others (don't ask), my mother grew as pale as I was after selling my plasma twice a week for three months.

Yet I was WAY better off than today's college kids. It was by NOT living in the lap of luxury that I enjoyed many memorable experiences — experiences that helped me develop.

Because I was broke, I was forced to work odd jobs. I worked with interesting people from all economic levels. I gained valuable insight into their lives and their struggles.

Because I lived in a dump, I was forced to share a bathroom and kitchen with total strangers. I went on to become good friends with some of these people. I learned how to interact, socialize and get along — skills that have been helpful in the business world and in life.

I graduated from Penn State eager and hungry to succeed. I found a job as a writer and was able to buy my first brand-new car, a 1984 Pontiac Sunbird. There is no satisfaction greater than that.

Many of today's college kids won't enjoy any of these experiences. Too many, thanks to parents who lavished them with all kinds of things they didn't need, will remain spoiled, self-centered and full of self-importance.  

When they finally go out into the real world, they won't be happy to find what reality has waiting for them. Like I said, I feel bad for them — I feel bad their college experience won't be one-tenth as valuable as mine. 

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  • Guest

    You know I have to admit that although they haven't started with the fancy dorms @ the college I attend, it seems that many of my peers are a little too reliant on their parents to get them exactly what they want.  No one feels bad asking their parents for money, or little (or big) extras anymore, and more often than not, they expect it.   It's frustrating, especially when you're burning the candle at both ends with work and school, and you have numerous loans out just so you can cover tuition.  I really wish some people would wake up and appreciate what they are being given, and maybe, just maybe, try a little harder to get what they want or need themselves.

  • Guest

    When one is wealthy one has everything. Not true is it?! That person has not the experiences and graces of being poor, and there are many. My parents tell me that we grew up in very hard times, didn't have much. Funny, but I don't remember the suffering, there was no trauma. What I do remember are new pair of sneakers. I put them in the corner and admired them for two days before I put them on. I wanted them to stay new. I made my own bicycle from thrown away ones. Painted it and kept it polished. I always checked where it was. Mother Teresa said that the poor know they're poor but the rich don't realize how poor they are. Isn't realization the first step in making progress? These students will hit the New Jersey barrier soon enough. There will probably be student loans; the future employer will not be interested in their college "pad". There will be sicknesses and disappointments. No one is spared because God knows that the most valuable lessons in life are learned when we have the least. If there's anyone out there in their 70's and all they've done is poolside living, start getting very nervous.

  • Guest

    God loves you .

    The key is that from early on such folk – sad folk, pathetic folk – have learned to be ‘takers’ and not ‘givers’. They don’t even much give of themselves to bosom buddies, let alone anyone else.

    It is in our troubling adversities and suffering that God can teach us how to be givers as He is such the Giver – of life and everything else. It is of great mystery and even nearly miraculous that when we would seem led to ‘take’, God can lead us to give.

    You might say that in this leading beyond altruism – for, modern altruism seems often a taking of ‘feeling good’ – one has proof of God in His Existence, Presence and ways from simply surprising oneself not to look to take, but to give. Grace, as love, is manifest and received back manifold as one gives from what one has been given.

    Remember, I love you, too

    Reminding that we are all on the same side – His,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell or …

  • Guest

    I live in a different kind of culture than most of you (I'm from the Europe), but of course, some problems are the same on this side of the ocean as well. I think selfishness has been around since Adam and Eve. It's in no way the sin of the youthpeople in the university or college alone. 

    I also don't think poverty builds character. It can do that, but also it can crush the person. There are of course these "hero" stories of beeing so poor and then getting better, but I think there are lots more stories never be told of people, poor, who didn't make it. What happened to them? God cares about every one of us. I think it's our responsibility to create a better world for everyone. Nobody really needs to be poor, if we just were a bit more willing to share. Nobody needs to be very rich, either. What we need is enough to live a dignified life. Including the students and the elderly. 
  • Guest

    The Holy Father just used a new "poor" terminology.  He said that, "Europe has become child-poor:  we want everything for ourselves and place little trust in the future."  Wow!  Talk about poverty and nihilism!


    About college kids.  I paid for half my education, which was as much as I could afford.  My husband paid only for his "pizza" in college.  We can afford to pay the full tuition for our college aged child.  However, we've not done that.  She is required to pay a.) either half her income or b.) half her tuition whichever is less.  Obviously spending money for gas, etc…she pays for.  She pays half her insurance and  car payment also.

    I think we're more than generous with her.  She's come to see our benevalence too!  Probably my husband was a little uncomfortable "making" her pay part of her way.  He associates love and fullfillment of duty with monetary support.  However, I think he's come around to seeing that she's actually better off for giving more.

    I know she doesn't have it rough.  The cost sharing is stilted since she has the safety net of her family…for today.  I'm keenly aware that "the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away."  I'm amazed that at this moment in time we can afford certain material goods since we've lived on a shoe string for years, very prudently, and had zippo in savings except for the flesh and blood on our many children.

    Even last night I remarked at our incredible blessings.  The rough times taught me one thing, though, "in everything give thanks to the Lord with rejoicing!"


  • Guest


         I think you're doing the right thing.  Your daughter will appreciate college more if she has to pay for part of it.  She should still be grateful that at least she's not going to graduate with loans to pay off.

  • Guest

    Good to hear from you claire.  I hope you're doing well.  You have suffered so much.  I know Our Lady of Sorrows holds you close to her Immaculate Heart.


  • Guest

    What is the 'NJ barrier"?  I hope that is not an insult to NJ.

     And please stop saying 'we're all on the same side,' it is evil to deny evil

     Tom Purcell, I feel like I know you!  I, too, went to Penn State.  I didn't work in bars, because as a woman, my parents didn't want me to  They helped me with tutiion and board, but I worked on campus, and on every single break from college.  I do know the places you mention (is there a Phe in the name somewhere?) but didn't go there much at all.  I earned money, and experience, and it helped me.

     I also worked hard in high school.

    You brought back a lot of memories for me.  I get depressed when I see how much kids today have.  There are not a lot of them, probably because of abortion and birth control, so colleges fight for them.  They pamper them.  I am concerned with how obsessed they are with sex, and how unprepared they are in the event of an emergency.  I know what my parents and grandparents went through.

     Hard work is good for the soul.  Today, everyone wants to be a celebtrity and live like one.  They're crass.  Thanks INSTYLE magazine (NOT)