Picture yourself 19 stories above the city of Tempe. You’re staring down at the plebes like they’re ants on the streets. You’re looking out from your private balcony, sitting within your own outdoor hot tub. From this perspective, it’s hard to stress out about exams or internship applications. Maybe you’re sipping on a margarita. Maybe you’re spending some quality time with a cigar. Either way, you resemble Al Pacino in “Scarface,” and you’re thinking to yourself, “I’ve made it.”
This is the life luxury student residencies and apartments promise today in Tempe. They’re popping up all over the map surrounding ASU, and it looks like they’re all trying to one-up one another. West 6th near Mill Avenue and the newly-christened 922 Place (formerly The Vue) on Apache Boulevard are undoubtedly two of the tallest buildings in the city, and their sole purpose is to provide college students with a living situation most of them will never be able to achieve post-graduation.
There’s a lot of pressure these days to “make the most of your college experience.” It’s everywhere — from official ASU fliers around campus to our academic advisors. Even our own parents board this bandwagon.
“It’s the best four years of your life,” they say. “You’ll never get this time back, so make the most of it.”
It’s as if graduation is this definitive, permanent line drawn in the sand of life, and once you cross it, you transition from a lush, fruitful oasis to a harsh wasteland of cubicles, mortgages and health insurance. You better enjoy these four years and party like it’s the end of the world, because it is.
The things we seen on TV or on Twitter don’t help. Everyone wants to live the Kanye-and-Kim lifestyle. I don’t care who you are or what your honest opinion of them as a couple is: It’s irrelevant. No human being would turn down a bank account that never seems to run down, a private jet to the Caymans or Fiji or nights of all-expenses paid parties on the rooftops of the world’s most esteemed 5-star resorts. These student housing complexes make a celebrity lifestyle accessible. The Hub, currently under construction, boasts, “Private Misting Cabana Areas with TVs,” a “22 Foot LED Outdoor Video Wall,” in addition to a “Yoga Room, Steam Room and Tanning Salon … Hammock Area, Swimming Pool, Hot Tub and Lay Out Pool with Island.” Don’t forget that all this can be found in a bona fide skyscraper. Talk about first world problems.
I want to say, “Shame on these kids,” but I can’t. I’m just as guilty as them.
I’m a two-year resident at Vista Del Sol, where students can tan “only once per day for free.” What drove me here? Government aid checks and a crippling fear that I’ll never have it this good again. After moving out on my own for the first time, I sought comfort, amenity and succor, unlike those smart kids who opted for less post-graduation debt and an adequate living space for a 20-year old kid: an apartment with chipped walls and beer-stained carpets, cabinets full of Ramen and a pool no one ever wants to swim in.
As I approach my last few semesters at ASU, I have to ask myself: Was it worth it?
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at @MrJakeWAdler.