Imagine this: A parent is helping their child, an incoming freshman, move into their dorm during Welcome Week. Overwhelmed by everything involved with moving in, all they want to do is make the transition easier. Soapy Joe’s, a laundry service catered to students, has a table advertising its service set up outside the dorms. In the uncertainty of the moment, they sign their child up. It will just be one less thing to worry about, they tell themselves.
Signing up for the laundry service is completely well-intentioned and seems like a good idea at the time, but parents and students don’t realize the consequences of relying on a student laundry provider in a collegiate setting.
By missing the opportunity to learn basic skills before graduating, the detrimental effects of depending on a company like Soapy Joe’s are far-reaching.
Soapy Joe’s Laundry Service is a “pick up and delivery full garment care service for students” in which all “loads are professionally washed” within a 24-hour turnaround time. Self-described as “USC’s most trusted name in laundry since 2005,” the company advertises three primary reasons for why students should utilize the amenity.
The first reason explains how the service allows students to “catch up on studies” and “focus on what’s important in life.” Many people view college solely as a means to an end — the required step to reach an academic or career goal. What many fail to realize is that college is more than classes. For most, college is the first time students live independently. And this includes doing their laundry for the first time.
Living on a college campus is the ideal place to transition from childhood to adulthood, surrounded by students experiencing the same changes, challenges and adjustments. Nick Lander, associate director of residence life at Kansas State University, believes in the value of becoming self-sufficient in a college atmosphere. On students doing their own laundry for the first time, Lander believes that the “collaborative environment, where there’s support and people” to share those experiences with has a “very positive impact.”
It is important to note that in some cases, it is the parent signing the student up for the laundry service to make themselves feel better about their child moving away for the first time, and the student does not have any say. Parents should be cautioned against signing their student up because of its apparent impact on their development and collegiate experience, as described by Lander.
The second benefit Soapy Joe’s advertises on its website is how it gives students time to “improve [their] well being.” The website continues to explain how “balance is the key to a successful life.” However, this rationale does not apply because if someone is leading a balanced life — managing their studies, extracurriculars and personal well-being — they should not have to rely on a student laundry service as a crutch.
According to a study in the Sage Journal analyzing the impact of time management on undergraduate engineering students’ academic performance, those with better time management behaviors have a higher GPA. Through establishing a definitive link between time management and GPA, the results shed light upon an obstacle to academic success and open up the conversation to ways to improve a student’s time management skills. However, if a student is not even responsible for their own laundry, how can they be expected to improve upon their time management skills in the first place?
The third and final reason to subscribe to Soapy Joe’s service, is how it offers students the opportunity to “have fun and live weekends to the fullest.” First off, this explanation gives the impression that doing laundry — the reality for the vast majority of the world — prevents people from “having fun,” which isn’t true. More importantly, if students are out “having fun” every weekend, how will they be prepared after they leave college to embark on their career? Post-college life isn’t always just fun.
Soapy Joe’s is doing a disservice to USC students by readily supplying them with a loophole to escape independence. There are many benefits of doing laundry, from learning how to manage time and becoming self-sufficient to meeting new people in the laundry room and being resourceful — and students should not miss out on any of it. College is the time to transition alongside peers, and if students are incapable of doing their own laundry, it is unreasonable to expect them to be self-sufficient after leaving the University.
Taking steps to fully integrate into the residential experiences of living on a college campus — which includes doing laundry — allows students to truly maximize collegiate life, preparing students for what’s ahead.