What recession? Despite recent news reports (and posts on this blog) detailing the boatload of debt shouldered by the nation's new college grads, a few schools out there are catering to students who want to live the Entourage lifestyle while earning a degree. They're adding valet parking for students. To date, only a handful of schools have augmented their offerings with this decidedly non-recessionary perk, but interest is on the rise as colleges seek more creative ways to generate revenue.
At Florida International University in Miami, a valet-parking program put into place last spring charges student $5 an hour for preferred parking spots. Although the program was put on hiatus for the less-heavily-attended summer semester, it's reported to be back in the fall.
Supporters say that despite the "You've gotta be kidding me!" response that such an idea usually elicits, the programs are a practical solution to a growing problem: Colleges are attracting more commuting students looking to cut costs by living at home and driving to school, and parking lots get congested. Another Sunshine State school, Florida Atlantic University, is considering adding valet parking. FAU officials talked up the idea, saying it would help ensure that students get to class on time and pointing out that it takes seven-and-a-half minutes to walk from the furthest parking lot to the academic buildings.
While charging customers more for conveniences is nothing new, of course, there's still something a little off-putting about this, and that's even if you leave out the fact that if students just left their homes ten minutes earlier they could still get to class on time -- and get in a little cardio, to boot.
Isn't the whole idea of throwing money at someone to take care of life's minor inconveniences one of the behaviors we're supposed to be unlearning in this recession? And isn't college supposed to be a young person's last chance to master effective time-management before they get into the "real world" of the no-stragglers-need-apply workforce? Whatever college students are learning in their classes, the lessons they take away from this valet-stand "curriculum" might be the ones that stick with them after graduation -- and that's troubling.
If students are always broke, why are colleges adding valet parking?