Why Colleges are a Lot like Airlines (Hint: It’s the Fees . . .)

Barry Lenson

Why Colleges are a Lot like Airlines (Hint: It’s the Fees . . .)

Maybe you are too young to remember that only 10 years ago, airlines used to throw in a lot of services at no extra cost. You wanted to check a few bags? No problem, and no fee. Just toss `em on the conveyor. You wanted lunch or dinner? Without having to open your wallet, you had your choice of chicken, beef or mac and cheese. You wanted beer or wine? It was on the house.

Hard to believe how things have changed. If you need to check a suitcase that is over the weight limit, you practically have to refinance your house to pay for it. And forget about food. When I was in a U.S. airport last month, I heard advertisements coming over the public address system that said, “Buy your take-out food in our food court and take it onto the plane.” That reflected the fact that after you boarded, you were only going to get a bag of peanuts that was so small, it looked like a dollhouse accessory.

And when you stop to think about it, college is not a lot different from that today. Once you dig deep down into your pocket to pay for tuition and room and board, you’re not done. You will also run into additional expenses like these . . .

  • A $195 student activity fee.
  • A $125 technology fee.
  • A $50 fee to connect the phone line in your dorm room (even though you’ll never use the thing because you have a cell phone).
  • A $250 parking fee (if you drive or park on campus).
  • A fee to use the health center.
  • A fee if you intend to use the dining halls between sessions.

And then there are other possible expenses that don’t actually go to the college, like . . .

  • $1,000 for a new computer and software.
  • $400 for textbooks.
  • $500 to travel to and from campus and class.
  • $250 for dry cleaning and laundry.
  • $400 for a cup of coffee every day.

Both colleges and airlines are there to get you somewhere. Airlines, to the city of your choice and colleges, to a more successful future. In their different ways, they do that. But it’s too bad that they kind of nickel and dime you along the way, don’t you think?

By the way, the charge for reading today’s post was $1.00. (Ha Ha, we didn’t get you, did we?)

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