The New York Times recently published an interesting article: For Colleges, Small Cuts Add up to Big Savings. In one college, students in dorms competed to save electricity -- getting 25% of the savings for a party -- and in another, the university hired students to do groundskeeping in return for minimum wage and a $1,000 scholarship. What is surprising is that colleges haven't done these kinds of things before (I know I would have mowed grass for a $1,000 scholarship!). Another aspect of this that the article did not discuss is the impact on the students; today's college students, or Millennials, are frequently displayed as feeling overly entitled and spoiled. What a wonderful chance to show students how to be frugal! If only the college could save money by providing financial education to its students.
College life may look different in the not-so-distant future: Students squinting out dirtier windows, faculty offices with full wastebaskets and no phones, sporting events in which opponents never meet, and paper course catalogs existing only as artifacts of the wasteful old days.
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After years of boom times that led to competition among colleges to provide more luxurious dorm rooms and student centers, some perks of campus life have gone by the wayside. Dickinson, for example, is saving $150,000 by cutting back on free laundry service for students and an additional $75,000 by eliminating free ESPN and HBO in student rooms.
This is unbelievable -- almost a quarter of a million dollars every year for laundry services, ESPN and HBO? That is quite a cable bill. This may be one of those hardships that are really better for the students than the luxury accommodations. After all, in the real world, not only is there no free lunch -- there's no free laundry, either.