Opinion: Modern Student Housing Breeds Entitlement and Unrealistic Views of Fort Collins Living
As an angry, broke millennial that loves the finer things in life like everyone else, I need to take a moment to vent.
For the last year I've been living in a not-so-fancy apartment complex in the Campus West area (I've since moved out), just barely making ends meet. Rent was around $880 for my 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment, in which I lived by myself. There's a basic pool and gym at the complex, basic cable and water included, but nothing super nice. It was a comfortable place I enjoyed living in, and it was built maybe 40 or 50 years ago. I chose not to have a roommate for personal reasons, and have been eating pretty much nothing but cheap ramen noodles for the last month.
My lease was up, I was broke, and my health was waning from eating nothing but ramen noodles. It was time to move back in with my parents so I could actually save up and have a financially-stable future only temporarily...and so that's what I did.
College kids recently moved back to Fort Collins, either returning or as freshmen. A growing number of them are moving not into the dorms, but into "alternative," fluffier options such as student housing.
Student housing is basically a fancy (and polite) marketing term for "we allow people who make noise to live here." As Wikipedia puts it, student housing is "cooperative" of students and actually began popping up as an alternative living situation for female students and other students unable to afford college due to housing costs as early as 1915.
Obviously student housing's definition has evolved quite a bit since the year 1915 because who the hell in college can afford a resort-style swimming pool, computer lab, tavern-style game room, a 24-hour state of the art gym, coffee bistro, indoor tanning, outdoor grill, basketball court, walk-in closets, in-unit washer/dryer/dishwasher, premium cable, and high-speed internet all-in-one?
Okay, so maybe well-to-do parents can, and that's fine. I realize that's the situation a lot of students are in (not everyone) and that's okay. I must also chime in here and say that yes, my parents were able to support me and my housing costs through college, and for that I'm very grateful.
However, my father also cut me off financially once I got a full-time corporate job with benefits and I was able to pay my own rent, car loan, gas, food, etc.
Now correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it most people's goal to get a well-paying job upon graduating college so they can have a life independent of their parents? I mean, I would hope that's what college students aim for, because I hate depending on my parents as an adult.
Those amenities I mentioned above are real amenities that real students in Fort Collins will find at The Grove, a student housing complex on Perennial Lane off Shields Street. There's absolutely no way I'd be able to afford all of those amenities as an adult in the workforce. All I could afford was this still-expensive, not-so-fancy, spider-infested, NORMAL apartment that I actually couldn't afford in the end, leaving me with the yes-fluffy but less-than-desirable option of moving back in with my parents until I can get back on my feet and maybe find a roommate that's not a creepy, random person I met on Craigslist.
That is the reality of millennials living in Northern Colorado. That is, unless you do want to put up with roommates that you hate, but I digress.
So with student housing options like The Grove, Aspen Heights, other options that are ran by *colleges,* and the new student housing planned near *campus* and their fancy, way-out-of-reach-in-the-real-world-outside-of-college amenities, I can't help say it up front: Fort Collins student housing is breeding entitlement and unrealistic expectations of life in Fort Collins, all of Northern Colorado, and just about everywhere else in the state of Colorado.
Students are going to expect these amenities after school's over, and it's definitely not what they're going to get. So here would be my advice to students who'd like to avoid the culture shock and face reality of living as an adult in Fort Collins upon graduation:
- Live in the dorms instead (easy route);
- Rent a room from some random stranger;
- Rent a studio apartment and go broke for a while;
- Live with a bunch of roommates (if you can handle it); or
- Live on the streets.
Okay, I don't want you to live on the streets. But that's the harsh reality some Fort Collins residents unfortunately face because seriously, normal people can't afford to live here, and student housing isn't helping the issue - it's only watering down the college experience and giving students the easy way out of dealing with real life.
Would I love to have a pool in my yard one day? Yes. Would I enjoy having a nice, newly-built house to live in one day? Yes. But a majority of students in Fort Collins will not be able to afford those things for years and years following graduation. They deserve a realistic college and life experience.
** Name of institution(s) not mentioned because this is an opinion piece that is all-inclusive of Fort Collins residents and students, and doesn't have anything to do with schools in Fort Collins, but rather the unrealistic ideals of today's student housing concept.