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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The College Experience

Toga! Toga! Toga!

When we think of college, we all think of different things.  Some of us think about late nights in the library, some think about a bunch of drunken lethargic kids, and some think about young adults trying to advance their future.  Though these all seem different, however accurate they may be, they are all linked in a way.

In college, we are all looking for one basic thing.  A degree.  It seems like it is more complicated than that with all the different majors, scholarships, and  organizations but those are all just a means to an end.  Even though the goal in college is very simple, it is a complicated and confusing time for the people who attempt to conquer the endeavor.  We find ourselves staying up all night studying for midterms and working all day to pay our tuition.  We meet new people and have all kinds of relationships to maintain.  We have to find a way to balance school, work, and having a social life.  There are those weeks where we have 4 tests and 2 presentations and a full schedule at work and everything seems to pile up.  Every day is a test of our mental and physical endurance, until Friday night (or Thursday night for some) comes along.  This is when everything changes drastically for most.

Out come the button down polos, khaki shorts, boat shoes, and inexplicably dirty white hats for the guys and rampant amounts of jewelry, unnecessarily short dresses, and high heels for the girls.  Oh, and don't forget the most important part, the beer.  For me, I've never been real geared up to go to the club and dance behind some girl I don't know or go to a party and not remember how I got there, but most college kids dig that kind of thing.  But my question is why? When most guys are sitting around figuring out how they can stack their beer cans or streak at the next football game I'm pondering stuff like this.  What makes the weekend such a time to lose yourself?

Some people say they just "like to party" and some just call it hanging out with friends, but I think it goes deeper than that.  I've had plenty of times where I just wished I could get away from all of the stress of college. Forget about my tests and quizzes and the grades and my next homework assignments.  So my assumption, which I have heard bad things about those, is that college kids get so drunk on the weekends just to forget about the stress of college.  They need some way to escape from the long hours they put in during the week so they just get drunk.  For those 3 or 4 and sometimes 8 hours, they don't have anything to worry about.  All they have is the moment they are living in.

Obviously I'm against it, but my real problem isn't even with that.  It's that we have so much unnecessary pressure put on us.  I'm a business major but I'm worried about speaking Spanish and doing advanced calculus.  I stay up writing papers about African history and memorizing populations for world regional geography.  I can't help but think how will this ever help me?  Does it really make me well rounded or does it just fill my head with useless stats and facts until I don't even know what is important anymore?  I'm all for learning everything I can about the business world and being well rounded and knowing Shakespeare and being cultured.  I just can't comprehend spending four semesters learning an inadequate amount of Spanish to ever even put into use.  I don't call memorizing dates of different bone discoveries in anthropology class being well rounded.

We have been pushed to be more of robots that go in and out of the system than we are encouraged to be individual students living through a learning experience.  The one thing that I will take away from college is probably just how to deal with people.  Whether it is jumping through their hoops, or being a good friend, or keeping them from snapping on someone else, I am learning how to deal with people.  That's sad to me.  I'm here paying boat loads of money, but not for an education.  I am paying for a slip of paper with my name in fancy writing and an experience that hopefully can guide me through life a little bit smoother.  For me, it's worth it.  But for others, what else does it cost?  I have to put up with the courses that are just pawns that play like kings, but they have that AND the consequences of forgetting about them.  One night stands, bar fees, DUI's, a lot of puke, bad memories, and no memories.

At the end of the day, the system won't change.  Neither will the kids.  There will always be ridiculous classes that we'll never remember, and there will always be ridiculous parties that the kids won't remember.  It just sort of scares me that not many people question either one.  It may be a case of the chicken or the egg but it is a question worth asking.  Is it all worth it?  Are we going to college to receive something that we couldn't make it without or is it just an overrated ideal that has turned into a requirement?  Maybe time will tell, but who knows, maybe it's just as much a riddle as the chicken and the egg.

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