In an attempt to provide students with a college experience while they take university classes online this fall, two Princeton graduates devised a new idea for campus living. Instead of simply taking online classes from their parents’, students would move into hotels with tens of others.
Starting this fall, The U Experience will house 150 students at two hotels, one in Hawaii and another in Arkansas. These “campus bubbles” will supposedly allow students to get a taste of the university experience without actually being on campus.
Twenty-four-year-old cofounder Lane Russell had the idea when Harvard announced that it would shift to remote learning but still charge full tuition. He told Business Insider, “It really made us think about, ‘What is the thing that college is offering, and what are students getting out of it? And we think that, even if a college is announcing something that indicates that the experience is actually worth $0, a lot of students probably do value it much higher than that.”
The other cofounder, Adam Bragg, added, “Something like this could have never been done before — mainly because the separation of a college experience from colleges was never possible. They held the college experience for ransom, and now that they’ve shifted to online learning, there is an opportunity to do something like this.”
Although neither Russell nor Bragg has a background in higher education or hospitality, they do claim that they “have an understanding of the college experience firsthand” and “understand the value of it.”
Applications for the new experience are now open, and according to Russell and Bragg, they already have enough to fill a class.
If admitted to the program, students must take a COVID-19 test and self-quarantine between the time of their test and their arrival at the hotel. Students must also comply with local health regulations, like Hawaii’s mandatory 14-day self quarantine policy.
All students will have single rooms, and those on the Hawaii campus will have their own private bathrooms. The base price for rooming at the Arkansas campus is $12,000 while the Hawaii campus is $15,000.