Preparing for College

College Likes & Dislikes: Add-Ons

In a pair of my earliest posts here, back in 2008, I noted things I loved and disliked about college. To recap, here are excerpts of what I said eight years ago:

Seven Things I Loved About College


1. The thrill of independence. It has its pluses and minuses, but it’s a rush, nonetheless. No mother telling you to clean up your room (or to do your laundry for you). Stay up as late as you want to. Explore wherever and whenever the spirit moves. Eat generally what you want, according to your appetite, not because it’s suppertime ...

2. Access to all kinds of resources. Perhaps my primary collegiate passion was classical music (still is). One of my happiest moments came when I discovered the music library, an entire floor of a huge building devoted to nothing but books and recordings chronicling the greatest music ever written ...

3. Finding new passions. As a somewhat cocky freshman, I thought I knew just about all that I needed to know for my needs in life. Ha! What kind of fool was I? Then I encountered the infinitely expanding universe of knowledge. I recall Religious Studies 3. I groaned when I realized that I needed the course to satisfy my Humanities electives requirement, but I learned so much ...

 

4. Books. I still have my college texts and many of them reside on the bookshelves in my study. They’re not only a source of curious nostalgia (“Did I ever call ‘Carol’ at the number scribbled in the margin of page 145 in Janson’s History of Art?”) but also great information (“Louis Spohr called Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge, along with the rest of Beethoven's late works, an "indecipherable, uncorrected horror." Great stuff!) ...

5. Opposing points of view. Don’t grow old without engaging others who think differently than you do. College provides a tremendous dose of varied viewpoints on just about anything, although the dominant political orientation on today’s campuses is left leaning, sometimes absurdly so ...

6. Autumn on campus. In my opinion, few experiences in life can compare to walking across a manicured college campus (perhaps hand-in-hand with a special someone) on a crisp, sunny, fall day with brilliantly colored leaves raining down to paint the landscape. College campuses are special enclaves, set apart from the mundane streetscapes of cities and the ravages of retail shopping strips ...

7. All-nighters. How could I love all-nighters? Because they proved that I could do them. In the decades since my last all-nighter, I’ve had some seemingly impossibly onerous tasks put before me, some with equally oppressive deadlines. As I approached each, I always recalled my college all-nighters and how I mustered the focus and determination to see the work through ...

And the dislikes:

1. Elitist, leftist professors. Anti-war sentiment was strong in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, stronger than it is today, in my opinion. The tinge of anti-Americanism was there, too, but perhaps not as strong as it is now. This affected me directly due to my military service. When I would try to advocate a pro-America, pro-military point of view, some of my professors (and even TAs) would brand me as a redneck ...

2. Short-deadline tuition bills. Colleges know how much you need to pay them well in advance of their billings. Students know that they need to have their money ready but often get sidetracked with annoying little distractions such as working to make the money they need to pay for college. Consequently, those tuition, room, and board invoices have a way of sneaking into our mailboxes at what always seems to be the worst possible times ...

3. Long term breaks. Obviously, we all need reasonable breaks from the grind of incessant academics, but the length of some of these breaks creates negative issues for both students and parents ... some other parents I knew were having a hard time with their kids living a dorm-style life at home, coming in at all hours of the early morning and disrupting the routine of a calm home ...

4. Textbook prices. This is the flip side of my love of college texts. I realize that publishing costs today are steep, but in my heart of hearts, I can’t help but think students and parents are being taken for an expensive ride. Of course, there are ways to buffer the hit: used books, online purchases, and (for the truly creative) taking courses without the books ...

 

5. Perfunctory Teaching Assistants. Please note that I didn’t cite “teaching assistants,” in general. The perfunctory ones really bothered me. They seemed to be merely putting in their time to earn their assistantship money. They were distant, hard to locate, and tended to look down on us lowly undergraduates, forgetting that they, too, were once in our shoes ...

6. Massive, impersonal lecture classes. I had introductory psychology and art history (among other) courses at Penn State in a building called Forum. In those classes, I felt more like a spectator at Beaver Stadium watching the Nittany Lions than I did as a student trying to learn something ...

7. The unfortunate, traditional timing of a college education. How much more could we learn in college if we didn’t have to go immediately after high school? I know; I know. There’s the ol’ Gap Year strategy, but I’m talking about what is now commonly known as the “Returning Adult” approach, going into the classroom with some Real Life 101 under our belts. I have often found myself wishing that I could go back ...

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Now, two add-ons, one for likes and one for dislikes. The new like:

8. College administrators who have a backbone. wrote about this recently, citing the University of Chicago's stand against political correctness on campus. The Dean of Students issued a letter to all incoming freshmen, informing them that the university would not be providing so-called "safe spaces" or "trigger warnings" on campus and in class, respectively.

In my view, this was a courageous move by the university administration. Other colleges and universities across America have faced the same PC pressures and buckled, even going so far as losing presidents and high-end administrators because of the uproar from whining student groups. Clearly, those schools fell far short on the backbone barometer.

College is for education, not politics. Go ahead and parse that to death if you want, but there can be rational, intelligent debate without the ridiculous ranting of these renegade PC groups. So, put me down for a big thumbs-up "like" for the University of Chicago.

Next, a reciprocal new dislike:

8. Absurd demands by those who should know better. A single news item sparked this add-on dislike for me, and it's somewhat related, in an inverse way, to my eighth "like" above. Here's the headline that set me off:

University of Iowa professor says mascot Herky the Hawk is too scary for school

In brief:

A professor at the University of Iowa thinks that the school mascot, Herky the Hawk, has an 'angry' facial expression and is calling for the department of athletics to change it. 

Resmiye Oral, a clinical professor of pediatrics at UI, sent an email to athletic department officials about the mascot on Tuesday morning.

'I believe incoming students should be met with welcoming, nurturing, calm, accepting and happy messages,' Oral, wrote in the email, the Press-Citizen reported ...

... 'However, Herky's angry, to say the least, faces conveying an invitation to aggressivity and even violence are not compatible with the verbal messages that we try to convey to and instill in our students and campus community.'

Pardon me while I go to the ER for treatment on my knee, which I have slapped raw while laughing at Oral's ridiculous observation.

Heaven forbid that Herky harms even one special snowflake's delicate demeanor! If this line of thinking is allowed to blossom unchecked, we'll eventually see tackle football morph into flag football. We must not bruise or -- perish the thought -- injure opposing players!

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I'll be back eventually with my Number 9 likes and dislikes. Meanwhile, I'll be resisting adding too quickly to my dislikes. When it comes to higher education these days, dislikes seem to be in the majority. That's too bad.

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