Living through college life

I’m on my way to circumventing the entire gamut of the usual college living arrangements.

First year: Dorm.

Second year: Fraternity.

Third year: Apartment.

And — if my friends and I can line up a place for next Fall — fourth year: House.

As I climb the rungs of the collegiate housing ladder, a few things are apparent, including, first and foremost, a growing independence.

Of course, increased freedom was the goal each time I made an upgrade to my domicile. But things I’ve experienced along the way have shown me there’s more to this progression than the freedom to play music louder, leave messes messy longer and walk around naked more often.

One thing that’s clear is there’s no reason to try to live in luxury, though people will try to sell that to you at every step of the way.

If you have a million dollars and don’t mind blowing an extra $1,000 on rent a month (or if your parents have a million dollars and you don’t mind blowing a thousand of their dollars on rent a month), then perhaps you can justify a living arrangement that includes underground parking, hot tubs and maids to clean your bathroom for you; I’ve seen that and a lot crazier at student housing at the U of M.

Ads for “premier student housing” or the “supreme college living experience” are trying to sell you an image of college that completely distracts from its heart and soul.

Since when do you need to live like a prince to learn?

Darwin didn’t have heated floors on the HMS Beagle.

Watson and Crick didn’t need 24/7 high speed internet access with hotspot sharing capabilities to discover DNA.

Bodhidharma Buddha never once complained about taking the stairs when the well-lit, music-filled, air-conditioned elevator was getting new card-swipe security installed.

You can live that way and demand these things, but they don’t add to your college experience. In fact, I’ve noticed the opposite; as I climb the ladder, my life gets simpler, not more expensive, and that’s because I’m not in the business of letting other people tell me how to feel.

My dorm room at the University of Southern California was nicer than my apartment is today — and will probably be a lot nicer than my house next year.

But by “nicer,” all I mean is shinier, more expensive and filled with a bunch of weirdos who would rather spend thousands of dollars to live in a sterile plastic box than someplace that might actually force you to walk your own garbage out to the dumpster in the back (gasp).

Like me, you probably first came to college thinking, “This is the thing to do, so here I am, and I’m gonna do it.”

If you looked around and saw billboards telling you that you were “unevolved” if you didn’t agree to give some landlord an extra few hundred dollars to put you in the “in-group,” you just may have bought into it — especially if your parents see these billboards and think those extra dollars will make the difference between you succeeding and (dare I say it) learning how to take care of yourself for a change.

My advice: Get over yourself. Unless you truly think you’re worthy enough to let your parents pay another human being to clean the toothpaste stains out of your bathroom mirror, spend that money on something you might actually enjoy and not something somebody who profits off you said would make you look cool.

Will Beaton is the Editor-in-Chief for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]