The downside of ‘learning to live’ on a residential campus

College is meant to be a time to learn skills that will help you as an adult. Getting a job, being able to form a well-rounded opinion, writing and communication skills are all things that our liberal arts education seriously improves over our four-year stay. However, while we are off living on a residential campus, there are many skills that we do not develop that are crucial to being an independent adult.

While living at Lawrence, we are accustomed to having a lot of simple things done for us. Everyday we wake up in time to swipe into the Commons and grab some breakfast. We grab a plate, load it up with whatever we want and eat until we are full without having to touch a pan.

For four years we do this three times a day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are made for us with a plethora of options available, and we pick and choose exactly what we want. But what is this teaching us? For any of you who have lived on your own, you know that feeding yourself is a struggle that you don’t readily expect.

After eating in Andrew Commons for four years, you shouldn’t be surprised when you come out of college and don’t know how to cook for yourself. While some of us have kitchens in our houses or in the basement of our dorms, how many of us actually use them? How many of us use them for something other than making cookies from pre-made Pillsbury cookie dough rolls?

As your grandma might have informed you before leaving college, it’s always good to have a recipe up your sleeve for your hungriest hour. Something like a pasta bake or grilled chicken can be a simple way to cook something healthy before reaching for the takeout menu once again. Plus, if you’re ever having a coworker or special someone over, it can’t hurt to appear as if you can feed yourself. For your benefit, we’ve listed some recipes below.

One of the more hilarious questions I heard this year while moving freshmen into their dorm rooms during Welcome Week was, Is there a laundry service on or around campus? I also recently found out that athletes on campus can send their laundry out to be done for them. This begs the question: Are you kidding me? Some students, I understand, come to campus as freshmen without ever having done their own laundry before. While this isn’t outrageous, thinking that this isn’t the perfect time to learn certainly is.

College signifies a turn toward independence. You’ve left home and are in charge of your own actions. Included in these skills should be the ability to keep yourself presentable. Learning how to wash your own clothes is unbelievably easy and is a skill you will literally use the rest of your life. Knowing to wash your whites in hot water and your colors in cold is easily remembered. And if you don’t know to separate them, well, you will definitely learn pretty quickly.

On a similar note, have you ever walked down into your kitchen in your dorm and found the sink full of disgusting used dishes that have been sitting there for months? I have, and let me tell you, the smell could knock you out. I can’t be sure if we’re all just preoccupied with all the responsibilities that come along with being a full-time student or if everyone is just lazy, but somewhere along the way people stopped doing the little things that make living within such tight quarters bearable. Part of learning to live as an adult is learning to be responsible for your own mess. But does Lawrence teach us not to?

For many, having custodians who take care of our buildings may defer feelings of responsibility for one’s own mess. When people spill, finish with a dish or even vomit, the response heard is often, “Someone will take care of it.” Which, problematically, is true. Instead of doing their own part in keeping their dorms and the campus buildings livable, many students dismiss the responsibility solely to custodians. Just recently, a sign popped up in my dorm that told people not to leave their used dishes in the hall way, “there isn’t a maid service.” This directly reflects the issue at hand: Are students neglecting our responsibility of keeping a clean living area, in hopes that our custodians will pick up the slack?

Another unique feature of college life is using a student identification card for almost all transactions. You swipe your card to get into Andrew Commons; you swipe your card to get a cup of coffee. Using a card calls into question whether students are able to really understand what it means to spend money. Because you are just handing your card to someone, it’s hard to see how a deficit occurs. The process is reminiscent of swiping a credit card for all your purchases without awareness of just how much you are spending. This becomes even more evident with the limited amount of culinary cash that comes with some of the meal plans. While some people are capable of budgeting their culinary cash over ten weeks, most people find themselves out halfway through the term, or even earlier.

College is supposed to be a time of self-discovery and growth. A time when we get to leave our comfort zone and slowly make the transition from dependent teenagers to adults. But in some areas, our dependence is being indulged. While there are many advantages to attending a small, residential campus, there are ways in which it prevents certain practical experiences.

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