Day 274: Have Dorms Really Changed In The Last 30 Years?


Today's dorm is both the same and a lot different from my dorm 30 years ago.

My dorm days took place in the early 80’s (so now you know I’m almost 50).  These were the happiest times I remember.  I moved from home and roomed with my cousin.

You could say that our dorm experience was a sheltered one for which I’m very grateful.  When a boy came down the hall, they’d need to announce it.

Our focus was studying and getting to know each other.  We spent our time looking for a ride, and helping each other jump-off broken down car batteries.

We were not set on partying, though we did grow up in the time of Haight-Ashbury’s counterculture, peace lovers, and the flower children.  We felt fortunate to have parents who sent us to college, and we did not want to disappoint them.

College should be a place to grow and to learn.  I now have two of my own children in dorms.  Much of their experience is similar to ours, but several things have changed.

Here are a few of the obvious changes to me:

1. Students arrive with cell phones and computers.  My mother could only get in touch with me when I was in the dorm room.  It was important to be there at times so that she could say hello.  These days, however, it’s not even important to have a phone.  Students use their computers and cell phones to communicate, and I, for one, love this change.

2. Campus mail is not very important.  When did I last mail a letter?  I have no idea.  I don’t even know how much a stamp costs now. In the olden days, though, I’d stop by my campus mailbox ever so often hoping to find a letter of any type.  Even junk mail was welcomed.

3. Food options have changed.  Since we weren’t out partying, the campus knew that we would surely come to the cafeteria and eat too much of their food, I guess.  It seems that our group of friends living on campus were always trying to find ways to make sure we could eat enough before our meal plan ran out.  Our children are just the opposite.  It’s hard to find a meal plan for them so that food is not going to waste.  Their meal plans even allow them to eat at fast food restaurants right on campus.

4. Values have diminished.  It seems that we could not have gone downhill from the 70’s, but in reality, it’s not true.  Putting my daughter into a co-ed dorm where girls and guys live on the same floor was our only freshman option.  I must say that I was horrified.  Knowing more about what goes on in this setting is even more unsettling.

Thankfully, there are still a few students who want to be at college to study and learn.  I’m just wondering if there are enough to sustain our future.

Even as I write this, I know it sounds “old fogie.”  Yet, that’s just what I am, I guess.

The brain caviar I offer today is to ponder the question, “Will these dorm rooms provide us with future leaders to sustain us when we retire?”


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