ERIC Number: EJ911462
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Reference Count: 0
Are Plush Dorms and Fancy Food Plans Important Drivers of College Cost?
Archibald, Robert B.; Feldman, David H.
Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, v43 n1 p31-37 2011
Like most schools, College of William and Mary is not shy about touting its amenities. The Webpage that advertises the college's housing and dining options begins with, "Wireless and Starbucks? Thomas Jefferson never had it this good." Advertising of this sort is a double-edged public-relations sword. Colleges and universities clearly want to impress potential students with their amenities. But descriptions like these seem to confirm Botstein's worst fears about Hollywood and vulgarity. Moreover, they play into the hands of critics who believe that those amenities are important drivers of skyrocketing college costs. The housing options available to William and Mary sophomores, juniors, and seniors seem to justify the charge that students never had it so good. Opened in 1927, the college's most recent full renovation took place in 1974. Air conditioning was added with this renovation, but the basic footprint of the building was not changed. Common descriptions of college campuses as cruises and spas reflect a sense of aesthetic revulsion that the word "vulgarity" captures quite well. But a more serious charge is that those who pay for higher education are being charged large sums to provide four years of luxury living to privileged students. Is this charge justified? Placing colleges and universities squarely in the context of the overall economy offers a useful vantage point from which to see this issue. There is a lot of good information available that allows one to see how the living costs at colleges and universities have evolved over time compared to the living costs off campus. That information allows one to challenge some views about the college experience that have achieved iconic status in the popular discussions of college cost. The authors begin by putting room-and-board charges in the context of the price of a year of college for students who live on campus and who use the university food service. (Contains 5 figures and 7 resources.)
Descriptors: Food Service, Higher Education, Campuses, Housing, Paying for College, Costs, Climate Control, Dormitories, Colleges, Educational Facilities Improvement, Economic Factors, Tuition
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A