College - It Ain't What It Used To Be


Like a lot of fellow Americans we recently had to go through the experience of dropping a child off for their freshman year of college.  While it is not our first offspring to leave the nest to spend time at a facility of higher education, it was still quite the “experience”.

No matter how many times you go through it, no matter how many children, whether it's your “little guy” or your “baby girl”, regardless of the amount of mental preparation, you WILL be overcome with emotion when that moment comes.  Sorrow, joy, fear, pride, worry, love, grief, relief, and only about a dozen or so more.

All I can recommend is to not even try and fight it – go with the flow…of emotion and tears.  And why shouldn't you?  A LOT has gone into making it (them) to this magical moment.  To the parents reading this, I need not explain any further.  To the others, it can be summed up in one word…EVERYTHING!  And now that it’s here and they’re gone, you can only hope and pray that they are safe, succeed and have a good time.  You worry about them getting home sick and not being there for them.  Your mind races.

However, things are not as they used to be.  Put that racing mind at ease as college ain't what it used to be!  I certainly don’t want to come across as an old curmudgeon, grumbling about how different things were “back in the day”, but man, things were so different back in the day! Don’t get me wrong, college was wonderful.  Some of the best four years of my life that I wouldn't trade for the world.  BUT

Back in my day (we’ll just say sometime between the 70’s and 90’s), freshman students were regulated to male or female dormitories.  Today, not only co-ed “Garden Apartments”, but co-ed floors.  Albeit our rooms were small, they provided all we needed.  Two beds, two desks and some storage to share.  We shared a mini-fridge and a 19” television.  It made for a pretty simple move-in day for our parents.  Today, we parents need to set up the flat screen LCD TV and cable.  The computers and Wi-Fi are next.

Thankfully, the college I attended back in the day had very good food (relatively speaking).  We had a choice of the college cafeteria which had your standard café buffet as well as a grill (a favorite) and two “food stations” on the campus which offered your typical food service menu.  Today, you can grab a Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latté on your way to class and pick up a quick Chic-Fil-A sandwich on your way back to your room.  You and the rest of your friends on your co-ed floor can order a bucket of KFC to share for dinner.  Or you can always resort to either the cafeteria or the numerous other dining opportunities available.

Of course when one attends a university of higher education, academic amenities should be a top priority.  When I was “shopping” schools back in the day, the library, computer labs, classrooms and lecture halls were all determining factors.  Today, there are still “libraries”, however, they house more computers, sofas and ottomans than actual books.

Speaking of “actual books”, going to the campus bookstore to unload even more of your parents’ savings was something that had to be done every semester.  Hundreds of dollars for hundreds of pounds of books.  Today, your laptop or tablet typically serves as your “books”.  You now download the necessary material.  Still hundreds of dollars.  Now, just for hundreds of gigabytes.  No more killing your back lugging around an overstuffed backpack.  Digital books and online purchasing have virtually relegated the campus bookstore to sell everything BUT books.

Back in the day, classrooms were…well…classrooms.  A room with desks and chairs for the students, one up front for the professor, and a chalkboard (yikes, whiteboards weren't even mainstream, yet!).  Today, they are truly “CLASS” rooms!  Leather seating in informal arrangements with sophisticated lighting and audio/visual systems.  Who wouldn’t want to go to class?

Well, that covers housing, food, books, libraries and classrooms.  What about the ever-important extra-curricular activities.  Back in the day, we could shoot hoops in the gym or swim a few laps in the pool (if there weren't any teams utilizing the facilities).  There were plenty of athletic fields and even a track.  Today, they have the same.  And a complete cross-fit training facility.  And nautilus gym.  And rock climbing walls.  And you can just about name it, they have it.

When we wanted to get off campus for a change of scenery, there was always Main Street.  Of course, every college town has a Main Street.  Back in the day, it consisted of a few local pubs, some stores and maybe an iHop.  Today….

So again, don’t try and fight it – go with the flow…of emotion and tears, but realize, they’ll be just fine.  You on the other hand…