Cheap Places: A Guide for International Students

States

Doc Seidman Says…

….Going to college In the United States can be very expensive. 

College tuition is expensive for those coming to study and live from another country. The costs of attending the school (tuition) and the related living expenses can be very high.  Some people are lucky, they may have the money to go to college wherever they please.  For most people, however, going to an American college will cost all the money they have saved. They need to save money any way possible while still getting a good, American college education.

There are many ways to spend less money. One way is to attend college in a region of the country where it does not cost a lot of money to live, eat, and play. Where you go to school in the United States is an important consideration for those who do not have the money to go wherever they choose. In this case, it might be best to first identify part of the country that would be affordable and then look for college in that area. This can save international students a lot of money.

U.S. states that cost the most money to live. (CNBC)

For those that don’t have a lot of money, these may be states to avoid:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont

The cheapest, or least expensive states to live (USA Today)

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee

Every state is different

Laws can be different in every state. This is why it will cost more money to live in some places and not others. This includes the cost of real estate (homes/apartments), food, gasoline, and other living supplies. Taxes also vary from state to state. Some states have high taxes and some states have few or no taxes. You might want to live in an exciting city such as San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, or Boston, but they can be expensive places to live and study.

A city can be expensive

Some states may not be on the expensive list, however, a city in that state might be. For example, the state of Florida is not one of the most expensive states to live in, however, the city of Miami, is one of the most expensive cities to live in. If you find a school in a big city, check to make sure you can afford to live there.

What you can do?

Make a list of the colleges in the less expensive states that might interest you. Visit the college website. Look to see if they have the subject you want to study. Write down their tuition. Understand that some schools might have more than one price. These schools are subsidized (helped) with taxes paid by residents and will cost less money for someone who lives in the state to go to school there. As an international student, you will not have that benefit and in most cases, will have to pay the more expensive, out of state tuition. Some schools may help you with a grant or scholarship, but that does not always happen.

Study the population

Another good idea is to study the demographics (population) of the college. For example, if you are coming from India, you may feel comfortable knowing your school has other students from India. In the United States, some parts of the country are friendlier to international populations than others, so it is important to see that your college has students from your country.

Finally, the F1 Visa

Understanding the city or region and the related costs population of the local college is a good start. Additionally, all international students need to have an F1 Visa which allows them to study in the U.S.. One of the requirements to obtain the Visa is showing that students have the money and resources to study in the United States.  Living in an inexpensive area may not be the answer, but it can be helpful.

Are You Ready for Some Football? Your College Is.

football-quarterback

Doc Seidman Says….

….On November 23, 1984, with his Boston College team losing to The University of Miami 45-41, and 28 seconds left in the game, B.C. quarterback Doug Flutie threw a desperation, “Hail Mary” pass into the end zone. Wide receiver Gerard Phelan caught the pass, untouched, for a game winning touchdown.

More than a victory on the football field, it was a win for the Admissions Office at Boston College. It is speculated that this improbable pass and catch caused applications to increase at Boston College by 16% in 1984 and another 12% in 1985. Whether or not this was completely due the football game has been debated over the years but there is no doubt that this so-called “Flutie Effect” led to an increase in the awareness of the college as well as a boost to student morale.

Can a football game really do this? Can a successful play on the field impact the admissions processes that take place off the field? More interesting to ponder, can it make a school better?

Yes, yes, and yes.  The national exposure of a good sports team has been shown to significantly increase the amount of future applications. This brings with it an increase of “good” applications from potentially good students. More applications mean the school’s acceptance rate will go down, which is a metric most schools like. For example, if during a typical year a college receives 10,000 applications and accepts 2,500 students, it will have a 25% acceptance rate. After a year of winning football, the school now gets 15,000 applications yet still only accepts 2,500 new students. This acceptance rate is now a significantly lower 16.7%, demonstrating on paper at least, the school is more selective.

Increased selectivity in the student body will have other desirable effects. If selectivity means accepting students who are more prepared for the college experience, it should positively impact both retention and completion rates. These, too, are good things.  It can also bring about more advanced classes and programs directed by more renowned faculty. The college wins again.

The glory doesn’t end with football either. A successful basketball program, even for a year or two, can fill up the school’s coffers. Gonzaga, Butler, Appalachian State, and Florida Gulf Coast University all seemed to benefit from the unexpected success of their sports teams. The so called “Flutie Effect” crossed over to college basketball, giving the students, faculty and staff something to cheer for, and the schools, some much cherished national exposure.

College football is also big business. Sponsorships, television money, ticket sales, and the like can bring in some major bucks. In 2015, it was reported that over $9 billion was generated amongst the 231 Division I NCAA schools. That’s much more money than programs in Chemistry, Literature, Engineering, and Hospitality brought in…. combined!

Is there a downside? Can a college football program do more harm than good? Possibly. For starters, it is important to keep in mind that having and maintaining a football team is expensive. If a college does not have an “elite” football program, its median loss due to football is around $3 million a year. With only around half of all Division I programs showing profitability, that’s a lot of colleges losing money on the football field.

Furthermore, it’s easy to be critical about the commitment to academics big-time football players, or other athletes, may have. There have been many allegations about players not going to classes and having work done by other students. Student football players are often enrolled in easy programs, taking easy courses with “understanding” professors. These types of incidents can harm the credibility of the school often causing outrage by the non-supporters of big time football.

Whereas there is obviously reason for concern, these incidents can occur with any student, not just those playing a big-time sport. Cheating students come in all types and are not just limited to those who can run a 40-yard dash in six seconds or less.

As an old-fashioned academic purist back in the day, I questioned the wisdom of a big-time football program. To me, it seemed to de-emphasize academics while emphasizing athletics. Wasn’t college all about academics? What value would a football team bring?

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Win or lose, a sports program has much to offer. Almost overlooked in the hoopla is the fact that involved students tend to be the happiest amongst the college population. It doesn’t matter whether it’s involvement the Chess Club, the Knitting Club, the Marching Band or the football team, those students who are engaged in some type of out- of-the-class activity are amongst the happiest. Additionally, win or lose, participation in a team sport is good thing. Aside from skills in leadership, followership, and teamwork, it looks great on a resume too. Many hiring companies will often carefully consider the student athlete resume and move their resume to the front of the pile. Playing a sport in college is also great on an interview, and of course, many will say it makes you a better person overall.

So, to big time football program skeptics out there; get over it. College and football seem to go together like…. college and football. Colleges love their football team, win or lose. A strong college football program can not only bring in more applicants, it serves as a great Saturday afternoon diversion. Students can take a break from their weekday routines, let their hair down, and have some fun, so to speak. They will even sit outside in the cold, rain, wind or snow, and cheer their team on. Colleges almost always seem to showcase their team and stadium on a college tour, and many schools even allow students to attend games for little or no charge.

Are you ready for some football? You had better be. Turns out that most colleges and their students certainly are.

So, You Want to Teach College?

Image result for college teacher clipart

Doc Seidman Says:

…Back in the day when I was an undergraduate student, I looked at my professors for the most part as bloviating egocentric mouthpieces. Although that was a harsh opinion, I also speculated that they had good lives. They would spend a few hours a week teaching, a few hours in their offices, make a monthly appearance or two in a committee, but spend many hours traveling the world consulting on whatever their specialty was. Who wouldn’t want that life?

I wasn’t aspiring to be a part of the college teaching profession in those days, but the thought of it was tucked away in the back corners of my brain. Instead, I choose to begin my career in Hospitality and Food Service.

Twenty years later, with cuts and permanent scars over my arms and hands, chronically aching feet, and more gray hair than brown hair, I started to think about a career change. The college teaching gig slowly moved from the back of my mind to the front. I recalled the thoughts I had about my old college professors and began seriously thinking about pursing this new line of work. The one big problem, however, was, how does one even begin? How do you take a career that was predominantly spent in the rough and tumble world of quick service management and parlay it into a more glamorous professorship? Was that even possible? Moreover, I had zero teaching experience. I had never taught a class in my life.

Back then, the Internet was just taking shape and there was no Google or Amazon that would guide me. I had to go by my own intuition. I knew the first step would be a master’s degree of some kind, so I enrolled at a local private university and began pursuing my master’s degree. I did so for the experience of going back to school and learning new things as much as for a possible pathway into college teaching. It was clearly the right thing to do as my observant dean saw some teaching potential in me and mentored me along. Yada, yada, yada, several years and two degrees later I found myself amongst the college teaching fraternity. Now, I too became that bloviating, egocentric mouthpiece with global consulting opportunities at my fingertips.

You would have to ask my students as to whether or not I was a bloviating egocentric (I’d like to think not), but I did enjoy a rewarding career in academia. I did get to see a good part of the world as the business of academia took me to Australia, South Africa, Thailand and Singapore. My experience was just about everything I thought it would be back in my undergraduate daydreaming days. Whereas I truly enjoyed my food service career, it was no comparison to my twenty plus years in academia.

So, you want to teach college too? Are you wondering not just if you can do it, but how you can achieve it?

For nine plus years in my college tenure, I served as an academic chairman. As head of the college I hired many teachers. They came in all levels of age, experience and ability. Some were older. Many were younger. Some had previous teaching experience and others did not. Some turned out to be excellent teachers while others, not so much. As a teacher myself, I was willing to train newbies. I enjoyed teaching teachers and didn’t mind giving someone their first job in the college classroom.

It can be easier than you think to get a job, at least part time, teaching college students. All too often a chair scrambles at the last minute to find someone…..anyone…. to teach a class. If he or she stumbles across your resume at the right time, you may get the call, whether you have previously taught a class or not.

Being a successful teacher on the other hand, is not as easy. As all college professors have learned, being effective in the job is more than just committee work, office hours, international travel, and lectures.  It involves carefully prepared lesson plans that utilize a variety of teaching techniques.  It also requires a commitment to accurate record keeping and other administrative responsibilities. Advising students of varying backgrounds and intellect, is also a must. There’s much more to the job than meets the eye.

During my tenure as chairman, I kept a journal. I took notes of my experiences and waited for the day when I could share them in a way that would be helpful to others. I look at all the aspiring college professors to be out there and want to help. So, you want to teach college? I wrote and published a step by step guide for how to do so.

My book, So, You Want to Teach College? Is available on Amazon. I didn’t write it to get rich. I wrote it to help others, just like I am writing this now. There may be one person out there reading this who aspires at some point to be a college teacher but doesn’t quite know how to go about it. I hear you. I was there. I went through it and I want to help.

So, you want to teach college? From building an effective resume, to how and when to apply, to how to get your class set up for success, let me show you how. Whether or not you bloviate is up to you.

The Dark Side

sad face

Doc Seidman Says…

….You might breakup with your boyfriend/girlfriend. There could be a challenge with a roommate. Certain academic classes are leaving you anxious. You feel the professor is out to get you. The weather might be gloomy. Your part time job sucks. You miss your family.

There’s no doubt about it; college can get even the most upbeat student down. What should be a positive, enlightening experience can turn into something glum and stressful. When that happens, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and alone.

Don’t be discouraged. You are not alone. A 2013 survey by the American College Health Association found that 40% of male students and 57% of female students experienced overwhelming anxiety in the past year. More recently, a 2016 study by the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute found that 12% of college freshmen have admitted to being frequently depressed. Despite the data, researchers feel that most mental health issues go unreported. Depression, anxiety, frustration, and despair are quite common amongst the college student population.

College life can have as many “downs” as it does “ups.” Being away from home can be trying for many people. Easy access to drugs and alcohol can lead to anxiety and depression. Moreover, academic demands don’t help either. Forget to turn a paper in on time? How about that test you didn’t study for all that well? Suppose you’re sick and miss more classes than you thought? Those incidents are common and do very little to help your state of mind.

Whereas mental health treatment for their student population won’t be showcased on campus tours, colleges are becoming more aware of the mental health challenges their students face. More schools are now putting resources in place to help. They are expanding mental health facilities, hiring more counselors, and encouraging students to seek assistance. Florida state universities alone are seeking to hire over 100 new mental health counselors during the next several years. Many schools are teaching faculty and staff how to identify troubling signs and encouraging us (faculty) to be more attentive.

It’s all a good start, however, students need to do their part as well. College students should not be reluctant to seek mental health assistance. Basic services are usually covered under the college’s health insurance requirement so there should be no extra cost. Moreover, counselors make their presence known on campus and present themselves as empathetic resources. The stigma of obtaining mental health assistance is declining.

Additionally, many schools now offer mental health related workshops or activities under the guise of general wellness as another means of addressing this growing issue. Relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation are becoming popular activities on campus. Stress relief workshops and general wellness clinics are also becoming more common.

As a veteran college professor, I can say that the subject of mental health is something not enough of us pay as close attention to as we should. We get wrapped up in the nuances of our class and often fail to take a step back and recognize the challenges outside the classroom students are facing. The blinders we so often wear keep us from realizing that some students might be troubled. Perhaps there is a bad breakup with a friend or partner? Or, perhaps a family member is going through a serious health concern or life changing event? The student might even be going through a serious issue with his or her own health. Most of us just carry on, going through business as usual, just trying to get through our workday. We may or may not make an exception to our students for missed work. The paper you may be struggling to complete at all, let alone on time…. too bad. The deadline is what is. See the syllabus.

Ironically, most of us have good hearts and are sympathetic to the frailties of our students. We just don’t know they exist. Rare is the student who self-identifies as having a mental health issue. We are often made aware there is a learning disability, or even a physical disability, but a diagnosed mental affliction such as depression or anxiety almost always remains unknown to us.

If you are a parent who’s about to send your son or daughter to college, take the time to speak with a school representative about how the campus manages the mental health of their students. This can be done privately during a campus tour, or if you cannot visit the campus, you can telephone or email the dean of students. Even if you feel your child doesn’t need these services it is important to know they are there “just in case.”

If you are a student struggling with the stresses of being in the college environment, there are things you can do as well. Try to maintain a heathy lifestyle, something that can be tricky in college. This would involve eating well, sleeping well, and getting regular exercise. A healthy sex life can also be helpful. Be mindful of overindulging in drugs and alcohol. And most important, don’t hesitate to speak to an on-campus mental health counselor. The counselors I’ve gotten to know over the years are nice people who genuinely want to listen and help. All visits are private, too.

Whereas mental health woes such as depression anxiety are common, keep in mind that college experience can also be positive and highly rewarding. There are many great benefits college provides.  Finding happiness in the journey is critical to making the most of these years. Great things are all around. You just have to know where to find them.

 

 

The Campus Tour: Know Before They Go

college tour

Doc Seidman Says….

….Touring a college campus can be a valuable experience. A formal campus tour will give prospective students and their families an idea of what the college experience will be like. In a previous post I had some fun with the campus tour pointing out areas that you probably won’t see but should. Whereas there is some truth to that (who doesn’t want to see where the best pizza is?), it was largely written with a tongue in cheek approach. There is a serious side to the campus tour, however, and parents need to prepare accordingly. Sending a family member to college is a big investment, and like any other big purchase, important facts need to be presented and questions need to be asked before the purchase is made.

The tour usually begins with an orientation given in a small to medium sized auditorium, depending on the size of the group. Here, an admissions office representative will greet the students, present the campus strengths and review the admissions requirements.  This can last anywhere from a half an hour to an hour depending on the amount of information the college chooses to present. Afterwards, a current student will take smaller groups on a tour of the campus. Common sites include viewing a sample dorm room, the student dining center(s), a classroom building, the main library, the recreation and fitness center, as well as any other important areas the college wants you to see.

Tour guides will stop throughout the tour and discuss important subjects such as campus clubs and organizations, the athletic events offered, and the various facts about student technology needs (Wi-Fi and printing services, for example).  Whereas this is a valuable information, most colleges will only showcase the areas they want you to see. They will present the topics they want you to know. The college, after all, is trying to sell itself. They are putting their best foot forward.

If you are a parent about to send your son or daughter away to college, there are things you should also know. They might not be as sexy as the new recreation center but they are critical to your son or daughter’s success nonetheless. A campus tour guide may or may not point them out. You need to ask. More important, your tour guide or admissions representative should know the answers.

Here are five important questions:

  1. What systems are in place for advising first-year students?

The first year of college is the most critical for your son or daughter. If students aren’t happy or don’t feel comfortable, they are more prone to leave than students who are content. Colleges don’t want to lose these students. They want them there. Almost every college has systems in place to keep the freshmen students engaged and happy. Nowhere is this more important than through a robust freshman advising system. Students should receive regular advising from a full-time faculty member as well as other campus support staff. If this information is not shared with you during the tour, ask about it. A smart move would be to ask the student tour guide about the advising he or she received during their freshman year. You will most likely receive an honest, candid reply.

  1. What are the on-campus tutoring options? How is the tutoring center staffed and how many students utilize it?

Just about every college offers some type of on campus, complimentary tutoring for students. You may get to see the outside of this academic support building somewhere during the tour. This office can be an integral part of your son or daughter’s academic support as many students need some help with academics at some point.  Many students who need academic support avoid getting help from the on-campus facility. There are many reasons for this, the most notable being ego. Students feel too proud to be seen struggling in something. Try and get a peek at the inside of this building. Is it busy? Ask questions about the tutoring services students can receive. Meet some of the staff if you can. It is important that anyone needing academic help not only receives the support, but feels comfortable doing so.

  1. What are the drug and alcohol policies on campus, particularly in the dormitories?

I have yet to hear this subject come up during a campus tour. Each campus’s policy will vary so it is good to know what the policies are for each campus you visit. Some schools have strict policies while others are laxer. Will your son or daughter get in trouble if drugs and or alcohol are found in his or her dorm room? If it is a strict campus, he or she might be innocent but guilty by association. It is good to know this in advance.

  1. What happens if your son or daughter gets sick and needs to see a doctor?

Some tour guides are happy to point out the campus infirmary and the great services it provides. That’s generally all they know unless they have had a personal experience with it. For services that require care beyond the campus infirmary, details are sketchy. They shouldn’t be. This is important. Don’t let your tour guide gloss over this. Sadly, students do get sick and need care beyond what the campus infirmary provides. Parents should ask how this is handled. What are the related costs of receiving extra medical attention? Also, if a sickness forces a student to miss many classes, how does it get handled? Don’t wait until it is too late to find out.

  1. What does the college have in place to respond to the mental health needs of the students?

The subject of mental health, whereby extremely critical, never comes up. Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are all too common in college and need to be properly diagnosed and treated. This should best be discussed privately with an admissions representative after the tour. How common are these issues and how do colleges respond? Students and parents need to know.

The Real College Tour

pizza

Doc Seidman Says….

…..As the director of the college resource website, Affordable College Prep, I get to go on many college campus tours. Visiting different campuses enables me to remain informed on college trends to better educate our advisees and students. Besides the speed walking requirement most tours mandate (A Visit to the College Why), touring a college campus is quite informative. One thing I have noticed, however, is that the college is going to send you to places they want you to see. That makes a lot of sense since the tour is a great opportunity to market, or create value for their campus. As such, you don’t get to see the worst public bathrooms or the long lines in front of the financial services office. You pretty much stick to designated campus highlights such as the glistening new students center, a sample freshmen dorm, the main library, the dining hall, and a typical college classroom.

There are other sites that I feel are worth seeing, but sadly, we never do. And no, I’m not talking about the dirty bathrooms or the long financial services line. I’m talking about other important places that the curiously savvy students and their parents should know.

Here is my list:

  • The broken vending machine:

We all know it is around somewhere. This is the vending machine that, due to whatever flaw, doesn’t charge full price for certain items. Those in the know can get that $2.00 bottle of Powerade for $1. That small bag of BBQ Fritos that lists for $1.25 is your for 50ȼ. This machine is there somewhere. Perhaps it’s tucked away in the basement of the Chemical Engineering building? Wherever it is, I think it would be great to know. After all, a bargain is a bargain.

  • The dumpster behind the dining hall:

Parents pay a lot of money toward their child’s campus dining options. Many schools require the purchase of a food plan to accompany living in a dormitory. This can cost over $5,000 per student over a typical school year. Despite the cost, most parents are happy to pay for this dining option. It is important to know that their son or daughter has ready access to nutritious dining.  However, almost every restaurant and/or food service facility is notorious for being wasteful. Tons of non-eaten food gets thrown out every year in this country. How much is getting wasted at your local campus dining hall will shock you. It’s a lot. Whereas not a very sexy site, the dumpster behind the dining hall would give us a peek into this wastefulness. This may make the dining halls more cautious about the food they are preparing and wasting. After all, wasted food is wasted money. Most families try and save money any way they can throughout the college journey. It shouldn’t be wasted on food.

  • Where’s the pizza?

Since we are discussing food, the college tour should point out the place on or around campus that has the best pizza. In poll after poll, pizza continues to be identified that the most preferred food among college students. The library, freshman dorm, and classroom buildings are all important, but let’s give the future students and their families something they can really use. Show us where the best pizza is. A free sample would be nice too. We promise we won’t throw it out. Nobody wastes good pizza; especially in college.

  • Best place for a first date:

Dating and romance are important components of the college experience.  It would be nice if the tour could point a spot that “gets party started,” so to speak. And no, I’m not talking about “The Point” or “The Field” or that special place guys like to bring their dates for special get-to-know -you banter (wink, wink). I’m talking about the place you can go to have a good time and some nice conversation. A place that is fun and somewhat lively. More important, it should not be populated by your “buddies” or “gal pals.” Leave them out of this. It should be slightly off the beaten track but close enough to the campus to feel comfortable. I think future students- and their parents- would like to know, and should know, that spot. For more about sex and romance in college, read Sex and College. 

  • The faculty offices:

A typical college classroom is usually a designated stop on the campus tour. Whereas it is an important stop, it really does not tell us much about the faculty. Since college faculty will be deciding the fate and future of their students: our sons, daughters, and advisees, we should learn more about them. Granted, we can all read about their achievements on their online bios, but that still doesn’t give us the whole picture. Have the tour visit some of the faculty offices. I always like to see what is on their bookshelf. Do they have the last three volumes of Multivariate Data Analysis, the most recent edition of Physics: A Textbook for Advanced Level Students, or are they proudly displaying, The Best Joke Book Ever and Hilarious One Liners? Personally, that would be the professor I would want to teach my son, daughter, or advisee. Nothing against the Multi Variate Data Analysis and Advanced Physics folks, I’m sure they are nice people, but give me the professor with jokes. Humor and learning go together like……. college and pizza!

  • The best bathroom

Nobody wants to see the worst bathroom, but it would sure be nice to see the best bathroom. Like the broken vending machine, we know it is around somewhere. We shouldn’t have to go to Reddit or the online discussion board to know where it is. It should be pointed out to us during the campus tour. Besides, if we are consuming bran muffins and guzzling a lot of coffee for breakfast, and shortly thereafter walking around the campus at a breakneck speed, not only would it be good to know where that bathroom is, it will also be needed.

 

A Visit to the College Why

celery

Doc Seidman Says…..

….. Why do so many college classes start at (or before) 8:00 AM? Nobody likes an early class. Not the professors and certainly not the students. Talk to any sleep researcher worth her melatonin and she will tell you that the average college student’s brain is not very functional at that time of the day. Isn’t the idea of the college class experience to engage the brain and promote thinking? It makes no sense for a college class-  that students have paid good money for, by the way- to start when brains aren’t at 100%; or even 50%. Most of the classrooms are just sitting there all day and probably going unused for many hours. I would think it would be easy and sensible to eliminate early morning classes and have them start and end later in the day when everybody’s brain is more functional. The professor really would appreciate this, too. I have taught plenty of 8:00 AM classes. They can be tough. It’s bad enough everyone was half asleep, but nobody laughed at my jokes at that hour; even the good ones (jokes, not students).

And while we are talking about the college classroom experience, why do so many college classrooms look like it’s 1958? It’s 2018. Can’t we come up with better classrooms? I continue to visit many college campuses and cannot believe how many of the classrooms look like drab, rectangular boxes. Some don’t even have windows. How can students daydream properly if there are no windows? Daydreams are healthy for you (or so I read on the Internet). We need better classrooms with better furniture. And how about classrooms painted in a color other than blah white or boring beige? Let’s have more appealing lighting while we’re at it. It reminds me of the old joke, what’s the difference between a college classroom and a hospital room? A hospital room has more patients. (I made that joke up. Pretty good, huh? That’s because it’s not 8:00 AM.)

Why are the freshmen dorms usually the worst looking dorms on campus? Shouldn’t they be the be the best dorms? Isn’t the intent to keep freshmen students happy so they feel comfortable at the start of their college experience? Colleges invest countless dollars in freshmen advisers, dorm activities, and greasy snacks to keep the first-year students happy. They should have the best dorms, shouldn’t they? Keep the roommate though. Learning to coexist with a stranger while you are stressing out in a college far away from home is an important rite of passage. But a small, cramped room with dust bunnies galore is no way to run a first-year college experience.

Why are tee shirts, sweat shirts, and other college logo apparel so expensive in the campus bookstore? I know many stores target parents who have more money, but don’t you want to encourage the students to buy the stuff? This way they can walk around their home town proudly displaying their future alma mater. Some sweat shirt prices are the equivalent of a monthly student loan payment. Why are we making students decide between a student loan payment and a college sweat shirt?  It would seem to me that the lower the price, the more likely the students would be willing to buy a sweat shirt, tee shirt- or hat for that matter- and proudly market their college wherever they go.

Speaking of the campus bookstore, why do many of them have an extensive collection of shot glasses, beer mugs, and wine supplies? Last time I checked, the legal drinking age was 21. Schools invest a lot of resources to discourage, or at best minimize heavy drinking on campus. I would think seeing row after row of alcohol supplies on a shelf in an on-campus store would entice students to drink.  Imagine going to the bookstore after a particularly tough class. Your intent is to pick up a folder and some other trivial classroom supply. While you are there, you can’t help but see the row of good looking beer mugs. Goodbye folder and trivial classroom supply. Hello fake i.d.! What aisle do they sell that in?  Now, there’s an item that would command a premium price!

Why are the off-campus, paid tutoring centers usually more popular than the on campus, free tutoring centers? Is it that students don’t want to be seen in the on-campus tutoring center? That would be my guess. If you made a list of popular places on campus, the tutoring center is most likely near the bottom. It’s probably down there with the campus infirmary and the place where you pay your parking tickets. That’s too bad. Most of the directors and tutors at the on-campus tutoring center are good people. They are knowledgeable and eager. They would love to see you. You just don’t want to see them.

Why do they sell pre-packaged celery in the college cafeteria or snack shop? Who’s eating that? Better yet, who’s paying $1.39 plus tax for it? It’s usually no more than 6-8 small pieces in a plastic cup. I would bet the college is guessing that since the students can’t afford the sweat shirts they would buy to cover up the weight they are gaining, they will eat more celery. I would think colleges would be better off selling pizza in a cup. Now, there’s an idea! Any entrepreneurs reading this? You’re welcome.

Finally, why do the student tour guides walk so fast on a campus tour? It seems that no matter where the school, the tour guides are in a mad sprint, almost daring us to keep up. Are they in a hurry to finish the tour and rid themselves of us? Are we that ugly? Is our presence a drag on their Instagram account? I’m guessing students are used to walking briskly around the campus throughout the day and just forget to slow down when they are giving a tour. Usually, students are in a hurry to get to class, or even a bigger hurry to get out of class. Walking to the dining hall, meeting a friend somewhere, or heading to a fun party may be good reasons to dash around the campus, but toting around the baby boomer parents of potential college students requires a slower pace. Recently, we took a tour of a campus located in a very high altitude. Naturally, the tour moved along quite briskly. Our lungs and legs were holding on for dear life. I was hoping the last stop was the infirmary because that’s where we were probably headed anyway. It wasn’t. The tour ended at the campus bookstore where we shunned the celery and loaded up on shot glasses and other alcohol supplies. We needed them. I guess I now see why they are there.