If you’ve been on a college tour recently, you will see that life isn’t the same as it was a few decades ago when I was living in the dorms. Here are some fun and useful innovations you will see on many college campuses.
Gone are the days of spending all day trying to wash clothes—waiting in the laundry room, hoping a free machine will open up, debating whether you should take out the dry clothes from the machine (and if you do, do you need to fold them???).
Dormitory laundries have gone high tech. Machines can send texts to students when a load is ready or alert you when a machine is available.
Students used to arrive at college with rolls of quarters for the laundry machines, but today’s student only needs to swipe his or her student ID card to charge the laundry fee to his or her campus account.
Having a car at college can be convenient, but it can also be prohibitively expensive in some places. Students who want to use a car for a quick trip to the store or weekend getaway can use a Zipcar®.
Zipcars, which are found on many college campuses, can be rented by the hour or the day. Unlike traditional rental car companies that restrict rentals to drivers under 25, Zipcars, complete with insurance, are available on many college campuses for students to drive. After completing an online application, an approved student can reserve one of the campus Zipcars at any time he or she needs to use one.
Digital Textbook Options
In the past, students were at the mercy of the campus bookstore (and bookstore prices!). Today’s students have an array of better options—electronic textbooks, textbook rentals, and online shopping at retailers such as Amazon.
In addition, e-readers such as Kindles, Nooks, and iPads allow students to store all of their textbooks on a single electronic device, reducing space required for books and saving money at the same time.
Keep in mind that sometimes you will want to have the actual book, rather than its electronic counterpart. Reading novels from your tablet is fine, but trying to flip back and forth to the charts or formulas in a textbook can be challenging.
Networked Wireless Campus
Most students are accustomed to using wireless networks in coffee shops, campus housing, and academic buildings. Having Wi-Fi available across campus means students can study when and where they want.
Campus printers are also networked at most schools, so a student can print a paper in her dorm, the library, or the science lab.
In addition, students can access library resources from across campus, taking advantage of the thousand of materials available online. You may no longer need to sorry about library hours if everything you need is available online 24/7.
Cell Phones and Apps
Most high school students already enjoy the benefits of cell phones, particularly smart phones capable of supporting apps. Because cell phones are so pervasive, students no longer need to worry about setting up a phone line in the dorm or taking messages for a roommate. Parents can enjoy the affordability and flexibility of calling plans.
Students will find a variety of apps that make college life easier, including homework trackers, flashcards for a variety of subjects, organizers, alarm clocks, and fun distractions.
Dining Plan Flexibility
Most colleges have linked students’ dining plans and credits to student ID cards. Historically, these dining credits could only be used in on-campus dining halls during specific hours, but today’s credits can be used across campus at any time. Students now may swipe ID cards at vending machines in the dorms or academic buildings; and some colleges even have agreements with local restaurants, which allow students to spend dining credits off campus.
On campus tours, parents often are amazed by the new innovations that make college life easier for students. Some are conveniences designed to save time and minimize frustration. Others are perks that make life on campus more comfortable. As technology continues to develop, college students will benefit from new innovations.