From free bicycles to laptop computers, colleges around the country are sweetening their amenity packages in an attempt to lure new students to their campuses. State-of-the-art gyms, smoothie bars and luxury housing facilities are just a few services offered by schools looking to increase enrollment.
Competitive scholarship packages, revamped dining plans and tickets to free sporting events make getting an education even more desirable in tough economic times. In fact, while many colleges and universities have hiked the cost of tuition, parking and activity fees, five campuses across the nation continue to provide exceptional perks that you, the student, can’t afford to miss.
A Fresh Approach to Going Green
In an attempt to reduce its carbon footprint and to make better use of the school’s limited parking spaces, the University of New England (UNE) in Maine offers incoming freshman $480 Gary Tiburon bicycles along with bell helmets and locks for leaving their cars at home. Those students wanting access to a vehicle can opt to accept a gift card good for 28 hours of free Zipcar usage in place of the bikes. The school has two of the cars available to use by the hour or by the day. For upperclassmen, campus shuttle service and discounted limo and taxi service takes the guesswork out of getting around UNE without a vehicle.
In California, Stanford University’s Commute Club pays its members $282 dollars a year for carpooling, taking mass transit, bicycling and/or walking to campus. Like UNE, the school has Zipcar access for students needing a vehicle for an afternoon or a day. Up to $96 in driving credit makes this car-share service affordable and ideal to individuals who only need a car a few days a year. Other benefits include complimentary Enterprise Rent-A-Car vouchers, online Ridematching service and emergency rides home.
Tools to Succeed Right From the Start
What could be more enticing than a free computer and printer on your first day on campus? Freshmen at Wake Forest University in North Carolina line up in droves to pick up their hardware from campus officials at orientation. Each and every student, despite major and economic status, is entitled to the superb swag. College-based software comes pre-loaded on the computers making homework a snap and note-taking as easy as turning on the power switch. Upgraded computers are available junior year and the laptop and printer are yours to keep even after you have graduated.
The Comforts of Home
The Lula Bell Houston Laundry facilities at Davidson, an elite liberal arts school in North Carolina, provides free drop-off and self-serve laundry services to all of its students. Clothes are washed, dried, pressed and placed on hangers by Ms. Houston herself, and the campus has offered this distinct service for over eight years. Dry cleaning and alterations are available at an additional cost.
Hitting the Slopes After Hitting the Books
Students at Michigan Technological University (MTU) feel like their student activity fees are well worth their cost. For $64 a semester, anyone with a campus ID can hit the slopes and ski or snowboard for free at Mont Ripley Ski Slope. Golfers and tennis players can polish up on their skills by visiting the Portage Lake Golf Course and the Gates Tennis Center, while other students take in a play or concert at the Department of Visual and Performing Arts or participate in intramural sports. A welcome treat after a long day of studying, the Experience Tech initiative has received rave reviews from students who find the cost of participating in school and community events hard on the bank account.
The Ultimate Investment is Your Future
For most young people, college is a time for self-discovery, cultivating friendships and earning real-life experience as well as enough credits to graduate. Determined to help their students succeed, schools like UNE, Stanford, Wake Forest, Davidson and MTU are on the cutting edge of academic ingenuity and provide the latest technology to anyone who is willing to take the plunge and further their education at one of the colleges’ campuses.
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About the Author: Charissa Arsaoui is a freelance writer with a love for thrift. She contributes to many different personal finance blogs.