Jun 26th, 2010 · Categories: Academia, Culture · No Comments

Off to college – is your kid prepared?

Most parents of recent high school grads who are now preparing for freshman year at some distant college or university are around 40-60 years old. That is, they are a generation or more removed from what their college experience was (or what they would have expected it to be had they gone).  And I suspect that a fair number of these parents don’t really understand how radically the experience has changed on residential campuses.

While I may have more to say in the future about the moral and intellectual quagmire of the post-modern academy, this post captures the spirit of contemporary college life:

The bacchanalia of the contemporary American college experience can be resisted, by young people who are strong enough and determined enough to oppose a personal code to the riot all around them. But lots of the young are not that tough. They’re weak and silly and susceptible—they’re young and uneducated, in other words—and they just want to do what everyone else is doing. In its way, that makes them just like the administrators of those colleges: weak and silly and susceptible.

What’s surprising – and terribly disappointing – about college in the 21st Century is the stifling sameness of schools that have become ashamed of who they were and where they came from:

The identity of American universities reaches deep into their psyches—where all of them want to be Berkeley and Madison, and all of them are ashamed of being elsewhere.

Valparaiso University has a new diversity program, of which the school is proud—oh, so proud—for it makes the Lutheran Valparaiso just like every other school. A friend recently took her high-school-aged daughter to a college presentation in which the representative from Georgetown never mentioned that the school is Catholic. The University of North Dakota is ashamed of its gender-segregated dorms. Everybody at the University of Texas in Austin will tell you, shamefacedly, that even though Austin is in Texas, it’s different. And everybody at the University of Texas in El Paso will tell you that they’re really just like the folks in Austin—different from other Texans. Their school is really like the universities in California or New York, you know. No difference. No difference at all.

Is your quasi-adult child equipped to survive intact in this chaotic world? I hope so, because if he or she is leaving this fall, it’s probably too late to begin preparations.

This entry was posted on Saturday, June 26th, 2010 at 2:42 pm and is filed under Academia, Culture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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