Practice Development Counsel

Phyllis weiss haserot
Phyllis weiss haserot

President & Founder

212 593-1549

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Raising the “Entitlement” Bar

Given the current economic crisis, more perks seem a luxury and more than ever can set up expectations divorced from reality. Is the development described below a positive or negative in the overall scheme of things?

I recently received the Trend Alert pasted below. It describes a sort of college student paradise that one small college in North Carolina has created for its students as a “holistic” and competitive approach to attracting students. It's portrayed as the next big thing.

Herman Trend Alert: Consumer-Driven Higher Education September 24, 2008

The Law of Supply and Demand is alive and well in higher education. Responding to market needs of increased competition, a college in North Carolina has begun to offer leading edge services to its students. Under the brilliant leadership of Dr. Nido Qubein, a serial entrepreneur and renowned professional speaker, High Point University (HPU) provides students with levels of service and perks never before seen in higher education.

Walking through campus is an experience in itself. The main greenway, the Kester International Promenade, features loudspeakers in the trees, playing classical music. HPU recently added six fountains to the campus and six more are planned. Other assorted extras include live music in the cafeteria, a sand volleyball court, and a 16-person hot tub.

HPU students are never hungry. During the warm months of the year, there is an ice cream truck touring campus, offering literally hundreds of varieties of complimentary ice cream and ices. Plus the campus has two snack kiosks providing complimentary refreshments, including pretzels, juice, bottled water, fruit, and hot chocolate throughout the day.

Students also enjoy complimentary daily valet parking and the services of a campus concierge who arranges for dry cleaning, restaurant reservations, tickets for on-campus events, and even wake-up calls. Their new multiplex will feature a movie theatre exclusively for student use. Presuming the students' have money on their cards, their HPU “Passports” (student ID cards) may also act as debit cards at local restaurants

“Our extra services are more than what they appear to be. We are modeling values like generosity, that we want our students to adopt”, said Roger Clodfelter, HPU's Director of WOW! “That's why we also recognize students on their birthdays with a card, a piece of cake, balloons, and a small gift. In addition, we send a get-well card and gift when they are sick”, he added. It is a “holistic approach to education to prepare students for the real world”(my emphasis). Clodfelter is responsible for these value-added services at HPU. (See a later Herman Trend Alert for more about HPU's holistic approach.)

Enrollment has grown significantly with the addition of these welcome perks. You can expect more colleges and universities to follow suit, looking for innovative ways to add value to attending their schools.


NB: “Consumer-driven higher education” is defined differently in the United Kingdom. There, responding to the demands of students, professors have felt forced to oblige with "top grades". We define the term to describe what we see as an important trend.


© Herman Trend Alert, The Herman Group, 2008.

So I ask, what do you think? What kind of bubble is this? Are you laughing or crying?

* Sounds cushy, but is that the way to prepare students for the real world? Does that sound like the real world to you?
* Some of the perks such as wake-up calls and some concierge services can be accomplished through technology and are a positive step to relieve the intense time pressure on today's stressed students.

On the other hand:
* If you think young employees act as if they are "entitled" now, how will they be after this sort of treatment in school?
* What will alumni say when asked to fork up larger contributions to support these luxury services? Asking to pay for new technology or financial aid is understandable. But free ice cream and snacks, and valet parking? What next?

As employers consider further upping the ante on perks, they might stop to consider what they are doing to raise the bar on “entitlement” expectations. If the younger generations are serious about wanting training and career development most of all, that is where the emphasis and investment should be placed to engage and retain the best talent.

Please continue to send your thoughts, comments and stories my way.


© Phyllis Weiss Haserot, 2008. All rights reserved.

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