Great Expectations...and the Tempering of

The Tempering of Expectations Graph

If you’re like most people, you’re a television watcher.  And if you’re a television watcher, you’ve undoubtedly been exposed to the fantasy world that is “The College Experience.” The dorm rooms are huge, your amenities limitless, and your roommates smell of the most glorious potpourris. 

Have you ever thought about what this is doing to you? 

You are being taught that your college experience is supposed to be filled with granite countertops, vaulted ceilings, fancy cars, and, if you have time, some light studying. 

A recent study by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program showed that ¼ of college students show excessive levels of narcissistic behaviors; essentially, they think they’re entitled to more during college/after graduation, despite the fact that they are studying less.  This is a trend that has gone up for the last 4 decades…and is helping blur the idea what the real college experience is supposed to be:

You are supposed to be poor-ish.  You are supposed to be living in a dorm room that leaves you unbearably sweaty in the summer/fall, and cold as hell during the winter/spring.  You, and all of your roommates, are supposed to smell quite pungent, and you are supposed to question why anybody in their right mind would want to date somebody who chooses to be so odorous.  You are supposed to share in poverty with others and “splurge” when all of you want a pizza, because you’re tired of the poor quality of college food, where you have few choices.

Take a look at the graphs at the top and think about what they’re saying: your standard of living in college should be significantly less than what it was before you came to college.  And once you graduate, things don’t magically go back to where they were before college.  Instead, you have to work your way back up…and the hope is that with your college degree, you will one day surpass where you were before college.  But just remember, this doesn’t happen immediately after you graduate.  Ask your parents, they’ll agree. 

The second graph is what has been happening recently.  Many students are coming to college with the expectation that their standard of living will be the same as what is was when they were living at home, and then once they graduate, they can continue their climb of having bigger and better things.  Do you realize what the problem is here?

Basically, we operate with the mindset that our lives should always improve over time.  So…whatever you become accustomed to in college will become your baseline for what you have to have once you graduate.  And as we all know:

Higher baseline = More $$$ 

To prevent yourself from getting into financial trouble after college because of all those things you have to have (and how much money you’ll actually make), don’t have as much in college.  I assure you that part of the fun in life is graduating to the next level and being able to get something that you used to not be able to afford.  It’s a great feeling of achievement.

The bottom line is that we all know there are temptations all around when you come to college, and we know that you’ll cave in to some of them.  But just remember to not make all of these things habits because if you do, you’ll be living like a student for more than just your years in college.