Last fall, I graduated from CCBC with an associate's degree. I remember my return to UMBC brought a sigh of relief. I was finally moving forward. Even when I first went to UMBC, I was taken aback by the sheer luxury afforded me. This contrasted with my time at community college, a far more Spartan experience. In all respects, UMBC felt like a five-star resort. CCBC is right across the street from the UMBC campus and that makes for an easy transition. But that luxury was paid in the form of double the tuition.
My community college experience was facilitated by grants alone. I didn’t have to think about paying off loans. This, despite the amenities that UMBC offers me, was something that I obviously miss. I've begun to understand costs as going beyond merely financial; the stress of a debt to pay has proven to be a heavy weight.
At UMBC, there’s a smorgasbord of restaurants in the commons, a game room with access to pool tables, a library full of presentation screens, and a state-of-the-art gymnasium with an Olympic-sized swimming pool. I feel spoiled. If one needs coffee, there's a Starbucks in the middle of campus. An Einstein Brothers is going to be built in the library. Chinese, sushi, subs, pizza, Mexican, it's all there.
If there are questions raised by students, they’re uncommon. In all honesty, these perks are convenient and enjoyable. But is that really the proper approach when the core educational experience is the main priority? Even with all of this, students still attend for an education.
I wonder how much could be saved by giving up some of these amenities. Would it be objectionable to lose them? While schools are locked into an arms race to attract students with shiny baubles, I think CCBC gave me peace of mind.