What real world?
Remember at high-school graduation when the valedictorian promised the coming of the “real world,” where we would finally be out on our own and actually have the obligations accompanying adulthood?
For students who go on to a university and are able to live on campus, however, this could hardly be further from the truth, as residential life juxtaposes students’ progression into adulthood with an actual decrease in personal responsibilities.
For one thing, dormitory residents have access to far more amenities than they did when they lived at home. They have access to multiple dining halls that provide a grand variety of options every day of the week; students can simply pop into the closest dining hall, grab an apple at their leisure, and be on their merry way to class.
Even when these places close for the day, other food establishments such as mini-markets and restaurants are available for students to select from at their convenience. At home, food is usually available but it is mostly unprepared and limited in selection; most families do not feast on moist, freshly cooked teriyaki salmon one night and authentic California rolls the next.
These fortunate students are not small in numbers, either. According to the American Council of Education, nearly two-thirds of college students attending four-year universities live on campus during their first year.
Also, college students often forgo having a job while they have a full academic and extracurricular schedule. UC Berkeley’s Policy Analysis for California Education discovered that only 17 percent of students in four-year colleges plan to work during the academic year.
Rather than working their way through college, numerous students prefer to proliferate their debt and simply splurge on student loans in favor of having more free time to enjoy their college experience. UCLA’S Higher Education Research Institute reported that 53.3 percent of students are taking out loans, which is the highest percentage in nine years.
Thus, the accessibility of student loans further dissociates campus residential life from true adulthood because most students do not have to take on the responsibility of maintaining a steady job while earning their degree.
Furthermore, they are living among others who are within the same or similar demographic. Most on-campus residents are freshmen or sophomores between the ages of 18 and 20; some universities even group students together according to their declared major. This is completely atypical of just about every other housing style, where people of all different ages, interests and living situations reside in close proximity to each other.
However, this is not to say that dormitory life is by any means an undesirable experience. Students just ought to be aware that what they are currently experiencing is occurring within an extremely isolated environment and will not last into their true adult years.
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