a current student here
Nova Southeastern University's Meal Plan
As a student in college, what food I am provided by my school's meal plan is important to me as this is the main source of nutrition throughout my time there. At NSU, everything may seem great at first, but thing's take a quick turn for the worse when the sudden realization of having to eat here for the entire year washes over my mind.
Walking in the first time, the cafeteria has a normal-looking food court-styled setting. There is a Denny's, a Pizza Loft, and Subway, and a few other choices. From there, I realized there are not many things to choose from, especially for those with dietary needs (i.e. vegetarian, gluten-free, etc). I quickly got tired of eating the same few things every day, but couldn't look elsewhere as I am an on-campus student without a car. Don't get me wrong, the school attempts to switch things up by offering sushi on Mondays and Thursdays, but it's not enough variety. The cafeteria at NSU screamed mall food court and fast food to me. Good meal plans are able to accommodate every studentsÃ¢Â?Â? needs while also providing variety and nutrition.
At my old school, University of Vermont (UVM), there were over fifteen different dining locations, two of which specialize towards vegetarian students and students with gluten-allergies, respectively. Each location offered fruits and veggies while also having their own specialty, like the store called Alice's which offered breakfast sandwiches that other places didn't. By having several options to choose from, students are able to obtain nutrition from different sources without feeling as if their diet has become mundane.
Being able to feed students is a difficult task especially when it comes to working around their hectic schedules. Like most students, I tend to place academics first and eat when I'm freer to, however, not all stores on campus have closing times that work about my schedule. Although some stores, such as Starbucks, are open 24/7 on campus, that isn't enough to feed my hunger as it does with thirst. I am finished with classes around 8 PM on Thursdays, so it's rather disappointing when I need to wait for the next day simply because an option I want closes too early before my class even ends.
At UVM, there are dining halls specifically designed to stay open until even the early mornings to feed students who were perhaps still in class or have studied too late. By having a place to eat that stays open even past the latest possible class, students at least had a place to eat when hungry after classes. These dining halls had slightly fewer options to choose from, but still had plenty of food at the same prices. Having slightly later closing times can help feed students with night classes who have a hunger to satisfy.
Now to go over the meal plan itself. I am a little bias with this topic as UVM gave students the option to choose between points or unlimited meal plans while NSU simply stuck me with a point system. Points gave students a set number of cash points on their I.D. cards to spend at college stores like cash while the unlimited meal plan allowed students to eat at fewer available locations, but to eat as much as they wanted in buffet-style cafeterias. Along with both options, there were sub-options that were essentially the same thing, but at a cheaper price to accommodate those with financial issues. For example, going on the cheaper point plan simply gives the student fewer points to spend on food, but is the cheapest plan to be on.
At NSU, I was given 1300 available meal points and that was it. I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but I would've liked the freedom to choose another option. The meal planÃ¢Â?Â?s price itself, however, was fair. NSU's meal plan cost me $1300 for 1300 points, an even trade. On the other hand, UVM's point system offered either 1366 points for $1707 or 1050 points for $1341. The price was a bit higher, but UVM's point plans also both included 25 blocks which allowed the student to eat at the other meal plans' locations (the buffet-styled unlimited dining halls) 25 times. Both meal plans have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to price and choice, but considering how much more I'm paying to stay at NSU, I can't help but to feel I'm not getting the right bang for my buck here.
Along with the freedom of being able to choose a meal plan at UVM, it was also easy to locate food when I wanted it. The fifteen different dining locations that were nicely spread across campus which allowed students to walk less than a block before stopping in a shop that accepted their meal plan. Not having to walk very far to get a bite to eat is very beneficial for students especially for those who need to grab something quick and get to class.
At NSU, the main dining area is the University Center located in the campus center. They offer the most choices there, though that doesn't mean there are many in the first place. The other dining locations for those on the meal plan are spread awkwardly throughout campus. The next dining area with the second most choices is on the complete opposite end of campus. The other choices are tiny stands that mainly offer small snacks and drinks and are dispersed in random buildings across campus. By having dining locations evenly spaced and in convenient areas for students to access, I am more likely to relieve my hunger right away by stopping in a nearby place rather than waiting for class to end and having to walk all the way to a main dining area to eat.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who shares these opinions on the meal plan here at NSU, however, I'm also sure that there are people who actually enjoy the meal plan here. I can't help but to feel disappointed in NSUÃ¢Â?Â?s meal plan especially when compared to the high standards of UVMÃ¢Â?Â?s meal plan. If I were to choose a college based solely on the meal plan alone, I would choose UVM in a heartbeat; not only is their meal plan much better, but I also wouldÃ¢Â?Â?ve saved around eight grand. Not being able to eat when I want or being able to satisfy a craving because it's not available has made me view the food at NSU negatively. For a first-time college student, perhaps the food may seem exciting, but it didn't take long for me to become tired of my repetitive meal-schedule.