The transition from high school to college can be expressed in a few words: Money is tight.
Things students were once willing to pay for may now be too expensive on a college budget. And this is reflected in one very practical area of every college students’ iPhone notes: the wish list. There is a trend in student wish lists that reveals less of a desire for material items once they make the transition to college. This was noted when multiple students were asked to describe their wish lists in college versus those in high school.
Freshman Easton Kawawaki discussed her wish list now as compared to her high school years. Even though Kawawaki is only a few months removed from high school, her wish list has visibly changed.
“In high school, I wanted clothes, a bike and birkenstocks,” said Kawawaki. “Now I want homemade food, snacks and money.”
Kawawaki has always thought of herself as relatively thrifty but college has added to that mindset.
“I’ve always been pretty frugal,” said Kawawaki. “But now since I’m on my own, the only thing I’m more willing to pay for is food.”
Other freshmen, Morgan Pearce and Sami Swanson, agree, saying they miss homemade food and money the most . Their high school wish lists also involved clothes and a few other nonessentials.
Psychology professor Max Butterfield said a relationship might exist between personal development in college and the creation of a more frugal wish list.
“There are a few factors that could be contributing to the differences observed,” said Butterfield. “The one that seems most likely to me is that college students have more experience managing their personal finances than they did while in high school.”
College forces incoming and returning students to become a lot more independent with their finances. According to Butterfield, students transitioning into college have to re-evaluate their priorities.
“Unfortunately, this transition isn’t always easy,” said Butterfield. “Students begin worry about their financial futures, and they start stretching their dollars to make the most of limited resources. These new concerns and practices likely influence wish lists as well.”
While a freshman may not have had as much time to develop the thrifty college mindset, senior MOCM major and ASB President mcKensey Wise has had plenty of time to experience the penny-pinching environment of college. Wise explained that now her wish list involves fewer material things.
“Now I want my gifts to be eating out with family and friends, and money for traveling,” said Wise.
Butterfield says psychologists have devoted years of research, investigating the trend towards fewer material items on wish lists.
“What [students] tend discover over time is a dirty little secret that big companies probably don’t want you to know: More than two decades of psychology research has demonstrated that people and experiences bring us far more happiness than things ever could,” said Butterfield. “It’s during college that many people begin to see this for themselves.”