The country club-ization of college living

A Brookside property near the University of Missouri.

College juniors Allison Wrabel and Jenn Croft have just moved into their brand new apartment. It's just off the University of Missouri campus here in Columbia. The unit has all the fixings house hunters crave: flat-screen TVs, granite countertops and a bathroom for every bedroom.

Wrabel and Croft have access to roof top pools with adjoining bars, fitness centers, cardio studios and a private shuttle -- all part of the package of living at a Brookside complex.

"It is more expensive and every time I tell people how much I pay, their jaw drops a little bit," says Croft.

Wrabel and Croft's apartment runs about $725 per bedroom, then an extra $35 a month for furnishings and another $55 a month for parking. That's fairly expensive for Columbia. But, Wrabel says being a block away from campus is what really sold her on the apartment, and that she's lucky to have parents help her with rent.

These resort-style complexes are attracting a lot of attention nationwide. The problem some critics have with this housing is that it implicitly segregates students based on affluence.

"The increased building of these upscale communities surrounding college campuses sort of falls in with the trend of what some people call the 'country club-ization of college,'" says Laura Hamilton, who teaches sociology at the University of California, Merced.

Hamilton followed the trajectory of 53 college women over five years. She says the students who couldn't afford to live in fancier housing felt alienated.

"It does create this segregation effect in the sense that these students are able create exclusive social networks with people that are just like themselves," Hamilton says. "And those social networks are often used after college."

Hamilton says students in more modest housing typically are either left behind or burn through student loans to keep up with their wealthier counterparts.

"I really feel that our students are less willing to defer that gratification," says Frankie Minor, the director of residential life at the University of Missouri. "They've grown up in very nice homes. That's what they want now. They don't want that in the future."

He says he has encouraged developers to look at more affordable housing. "No parent wants to deny their son or daughter what they want. The question is can they really afford that?"

So what role do universities have in the business of off-campus housing?

"University officials can encourage or discourage local businesses from creating housing for their students that they think is consistent with what they want to have for those students," says Sara Goldrick-Rab, who researches educational policy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

But she says, let's face it, these upscale complexes attract wealthier students who end up paying more tuition and becoming big donors.

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There will always be options when it comes to student housing. In my opinion $725 a month is about average when compared to dorm rooms. Dorms are usually terrible places to live. Also this pricing is nothing when compared to NY. The price could be cut in half by having another room mate live in your room. There are advantages to living on campus. No car needed so your chances of getting in an auto accident go down significantly.

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Our daughter is a junior at Mizzou. We are familiar with Brookside; however, she chose a complex off campus a few miles with a salt water pool, tanning beds, exercise room, 24 hour coffee bar, separate bedrooms and baths for each bedroom. We spent one full day last year searching for apartments. This type of living appears to be the norm at Mizzou. But as stated in some of the comments, dorms and food plans are just as costly. We are a very average income family. College is just so expensive. This new school year she is living in a sorority house. They can be less expensive to live in than the dorms. So much for the old saying of "The Poor College Student!"

Ummm can I live there? Ha it's just funny that's the same price for a horrible place in LA. Something like that here would cost $3000. I wonder if those kids will want to move to a big city that would give them a rude awakening because sure they may be able to afford that there, but that here eeek that cuts into the bottom line.

Well its crazy that tuition goes to these places like Dorms and Sports over Professor pay and Science lab equipment in some places.

Extremely disappointing segment. Emufarmer got it right, colleges charge much more for dorms then these upscale apartments, look at the price for suites at Mizzu. Then factor in the outrages price for meal plans that students have to buy because on campus housing units have no kitchens.

It's hard to get an idea of what this really means without knowing what university housing usually costs. A shared room in the cheapest dorms at the University of Missouri is $4,625/year: that's $578/month (school is in session for roughly 8 months every year). A single room (which is a better comparison here) in those same dorms is $6,160, or...$770/month. In other words, these "resort-style complexes" cost about the same as dorm rooms.


...I mean't to say "...I never didn't experience..."


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