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High End Dorms

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Replies to: High End Dorms

  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 31,318 Senior Member
    The Tufts Housing lottery has you get all four years of lottery numbers as a freshman so that they even out. There's no paying for better housing. The only issue was that my son's best number was for junior year when he was abroad.

    My experience at Harvard was that about 2% lived off campus, and even those mostly lived in a co-op dorm. I knew one woman who was a freshman in her late 30s who had a family, (and a previous career as a nurse), but the residential college system is considered a cornerstone of college life.

    I really think that it's important to encourage kids to mix with people less like themselves as much as possible. I'm not a big fan of themed housing, honors dorms (though I get their attraction!) or housing that segregates rich from not so rich.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 19,938 Senior Member
    For some full pay (or borrow) families, having the option to live in a cheaper dorm or take a lower meal plan is the only way they can afford to live on campus or maybe even go to that school. As I said above, my daughter could have saved $2000 by living in the 'old' dorm and I almost had to require that just to get her through the first year. For freshmen, the only meal plan available was $2600 per semester and that was killing us. Sure, some kids may have had that covered by financial aid but she didn't, and she didn't eat anywhere near that much in food.

    If the student can't afford the most expensive dorm with the LLC he wants, he may have to pick a different LLC to make that school work.

    I made the mistake of comparing tuition and fees at schools and didn't pay much attention to the cost of R&B, assuming it would be close at every school. No. One of my kids had to pay about $14k per year, the other about $8000. There wasn't much difference in the cost of living in the towns they were in. The lower one was in a traditional dorm and had a choice of several meal plans and the other had a suite style room with her own (small) room and shared kitchenette and double bathroom for 4 girls, and only one very expensive meal plan. That $6000 difference was very important to our budget and I don't think one got a $6000 'better' experience.
  • MastadonMastadon Registered User Posts: 1,681 Senior Member
    @Greyking wrote:
    What is the point of socioeconomic diversity in a college if the kids do not live side by side and interact socially?

    and @Blossom wrote:
    I have family members (younger generation) who are recent graduates of Princeton, Yale, MIT, Cal Tech, Middlebury, U Chicago, Cornell where I think you'd be hard-pressed to figure out who are the kids with money vs. everyone else.

    Food for thought:

    If Blossom's family wasn't able to figure out "who had money" and "who did not", then were they really interacting socially and what did they learn? - That everybody lives/behaves the same way independent of socioeconomic status?

    MIT, Cal Tech, U Chicago and Cornell all have a tiered housing policy, yet Blossom's family members (who attended those schools) didn't appear to have detected any impact.

    I hope I have not put Blossom on the defensive. That is not my intent. I am only trying to suggest that this situation is much more complex/nuanced than it might appear at first glance (which she also suggested), and is therefore worthy of further discussion.

    Many people didn't know that there are students going hungry at Ivy/MIT/NESCAC schools (this was the subject of another interesting CC thread).

    Here is an article that might provide some context/insights.

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2015/04/09/what-like-poor-ivy-league-school/xPtql5uzDb6r9AUFER8R0O/story.html
  • Twoin18Twoin18 Registered User Posts: 934 Member
    I think I would find it very odd if there wasn't a discount associated with a triple room compared to a double room. And I can definitely see the rationale for charging more for A/C in locations that is a nice to have (and not universal). My S18 wanted the non A/C room at UCLA because it's more sociable and more central, not because it's cheaper, and he's happy to stay in a triple next year for the same reason. It's explicitly made clear which room rates are covered by financial aid and which are not.

    So long as people aren't forced to take a more expensive room than they want/can afford, I'm struggling to see the problem with having some level of differentiation in price, especially if you have some doubles and triples, some with private bathrooms or A/C and some without, etc. Often the oldest and worst rooms from a facilities point of view have the best location and are more popular anyway. But I agree that ideally financial aid shouldn't just pay for the worst triple rooms (though a state university might well decide that spreading its aid more widely is a good idea).
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 72,949 Senior Member
    Mastadon wrote:
    If Blossom's family wasn't able to figure out "who had money" and "who did not", then were they really interacting socially and what did they learn? - That everybody lives/behaves the same way independent of socioeconomic status?

    The elite privates typically have about half of the students from the top 3% money families (no FA) and most of the rest from upper half money families (FA, no Pell Grant), with only about 10-20% from lower half money families (Pell Grant). So they are high SES environments, so those few from low SES backgrounds are likely to be socialized into high SES behavior (the presumed reason that elite college attendance helps low SES students more in making them more desirable to certain employers).
  • MarianMarian Registered User Posts: 13,025 Senior Member
    MIT, Cal Tech, U Chicago and Cornell all have a tiered housing policy, yet Blossom's family members (who attended those schools) didn't appear to have detected any impact.

    I suspect (based mostly on my fairly recent experience with a kid at Cornell and my own experience at that school decades earlier) that they didn't detect an impact because the other students that Blossom's family members encountered were either (1) upper-middle-class or (2) wealthy. These two groups mix fairly easily, and on campuses that are dominated by the upper middle class, the wealthy kids tend to downplay the differences between their families' lifestyles and those of their friends. You're may hear that both Joe Rich and Jane UpperMiddleClass went on ski trips during Winter Break, but you're not likely to find out, unless you specifically ask, that Joe went to Switzerland. Jane, on the other hand, would freely discuss the details of her trip to Vermont.

    I think that students would detect the difference between kids who fall into either of the high SES groups mentioned above and truly low SES kids. But low SES kids may tend to stick together to such an extent that the other kids rarely encounter them.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 12,070 Senior Member
    But low SES kids may tend to stick together to such an extent that the other kids rarely encounter them.

    ...unless perhaps they share a room or hang out on the dorm floor lounge which is one of the goals of same-price lottery housing.
  • MarianMarian Registered User Posts: 13,025 Senior Member
    But low SES kids may tend to stick together to such an extent that the other kids rarely encounter them.

    ...unless perhaps they share a room or hang out on the dorm floor lounge which is one of the goals of same-price lottery housing.

    I find it hard to imagine them being anything other than ships passing through the dorm room in the night. The differences are so great.

    I was a first-generation college student (though I wasn't struggling financially). Within months after arriving at college, I had a circle of friends, all of whom were either first-generation like me or really, really broke or both. We understood each other. With each other, we weren't embarrassed if we didn't know what "office hours" meant or if we couldn't afford even the reduced-price on-campus movies. The other kids on campus would have looked at us as though we were aliens from outer space if we had mentioned such things.

    Many of us had roommates from very different, much more affluent and/or sophisticated backgrounds. We rarely said more than "hello" to them, and they were even less eager to associate with us.

    I hope this has changed in the intervening decades, but somehow I doubt it.
  • Data10Data10 Registered User Posts: 2,549 Senior Member
    edited January 12
    But low SES kids may tend to stick together to such an extent that the other kids rarely encounter them.

    ...unless perhaps they share a room or hang out on the dorm floor lounge which is one of the goals of same-price lottery housing.
    I find it hard to imagine them being anything other than ships passing through the dorm room in the night. The differences are so great.
    It's also possible for students to not be obsessed with how much money the parents of other students make, or even aware. Instead it was my experience, that parents' SES/occupation/income played a far lesser role in college relationships than high school due to a combination of the greater separation from parents, increased maturity, and being in a later stage in life.

    For the most part, I didn't know the SES status of the parents of kids I attended college with. The kids I spent time with didn't talk about how wealthy their parents were, going on a ski trip to Switzerland, and so on. I also wasn't in to fashion and had no idea which kids were wearing designer clothing and which kids were not, nor did I care. I rarely went off campus and had pay to play type situations that excluded students who could afford an expensive activity. Instead the things that we did talk about generally had little relation to parents' income/SES, such as talking about how things were going with classes, who was dating/wanting to date who, a kid in the dorm who partied too hard and was in no condition to take his midterm, an activity on campus, etc.

    After graduating, I learned that one of the kids in my dorm's father was a near-CEO of a fortune 500 type company. While in college, he tended to hang out with other persons in the dorm that were in to partying like he was, rather than those whose parents were a particular SES. There was a similar pattern with cliques -- kids who were in to partying often hung out with others who felt the same. Kids who were more focused on pre-med often hung out with others who felt the same. The cliques often centered on common interests, goals, activities, gender, or ethnicities.; not SES. On my team (crew), it was common for team members to hang out, but the only time SES was brought up was indirectly in relation to something unusual. For example, one kid on the team shared a standard sized room with a huge number of roommates (maybe 6... don't recall exact number), which was in violation of the campus rules. This generated a good amount of discussion, but it focused on the huge number of roommates, rather than SES or assumptions about his parents being poor and having to same money on housing. I am not aware of him being segregated or excluded from any off team activities. Instead he was more popular than most on the team, probably due to his bright and outgoing personality.




  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 30,622 Senior Member
    Data10 makes a good point, one worth remembering through the other scores of discussisons about wealth on campus. There's a flat idea kids can't mix on interests other than what their SES can buy. That rich kids spend more, are more ostentatious, and only interested in those with similar backgrounds. That poorer kids are somehow shamed into only hanging with other poorer kids. Look around. That's just one view.

    I think some also assume rich kids can't be nice. Or normal. Or held to a budget. And that poorer kids can't evidence social graces and worthiness of friendships of all sorts.

    The issue about these expensive dorms is which kids choose to exclude themselves. That doesn't speak for the entire campus and all interactions. I do agree kids should mix, btw.
  • oldfortoldfort Registered User Posts: 22,452 Senior Member
    Both of my kids went to Cornell. They paid the same for dorms freshman year, but most moved off campus after that. There were definitely more expensive apartment building around the school that not everyone could afford. Once they moved off campus, my kids did end up hanging out with students with similar SES who would entertain like they do.

    Another segregation they saw in school was race. My kids are bi-racial. They thought when they went off to college they would make some Asian friends. They were surprised when they were not as welcomed. This also happened to D2 recently at her law school (she went to a retreat organized by an Asian club, they went out of their way to not giving her a proper bed and spoke badly of her when she complained).

    Getting a bit off topic about high end dorms.
  • EllieMomEllieMom Registered User Posts: 1,840 Senior Member
    edited January 13
    I asked my daughter about this since her school (which is private and "respected" in academic circles but not necessarily "prestigious" or "elite") does have tiered pricing for upper-classmen dorms and most students live on campus all four years. All freshmen live in "standard" dorms. The apartment-style dorms that some upper-classmen live in are more expensive than the basic dorms, but having a kitchen means that most also purchase more limited dining plans when they make that move. The housing lottery, rather than ability to pay, determines who gets into the newer dorms. Most of Greek housing is also on dorm-floors rather than special housing.

    The campus culture also seems to frown on obvious flaunting of wealth or conspicuous consumption, but whether that is a reflection of the housing options or a more general campus atmosphere, I'm not sure. There are other things that seem to help decrease the obvious gaps between those with lots to spend and those with less. It is assumed that students will have some sort of campus research or TA job during the year and internships in the summer. They also make study abroad very affordable so that isn't a differentiator either. I'll admit the focus on academics and long winters in a town not known for nightlife is probably also a leveler in terms of haves and have-nots.

    Are kids aware that some people have more financial resources than others? Of course. But, based on D's friends, that doesn't really have much effect on friendship groups.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 12,070 Senior Member
    @EllieMom Are kids aware that some people have more financial resources than others? Of course. But, based on D's friends, that doesn't really have much effect on friendship groups.

    That has also been D's experience. Her friend group includes several races and very diverse SES levels and was formed on her first year dorm floor.
    @Marian I find it hard to imagine them being anything other than ships passing through the dorm room in the night. The differences are so great.

    I'm sure that's sometimes the case but I also know that sometimes it isn't. And I do think a residential 4 year college in a smallish town helps level that playing field somewhat.
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