By Todd Lancaster
I just dropped my second child off at college, and let me say things have changed on campus in the last 35 years.
The biggest change is they really don’t live in dorm rooms. They live in the 3-inch screen that dictates every aspect of their lives.
So as I sit on the cyber-porch and yell at the cyber-hooligans in my cyber-yard, I think I have earned the right to yammer on about all that is right and wrong with the current crop of cyber whippersnappers.
Although people have been erroneously reporting the upcoming end-of-days, since the beginning-of-days, I am sad to report that they don’t make college kids like they used to. So bring on the end times (and a kegger to celebrate).
Today’s freshmen have access to all of the information ever known to man right in their pockets, yet they don’t know the first thing about the incredible freedom and opportunities about to come their way.
So, here are just a few thoughts that might help our youth find their way to that bachelor’s degree without a GPS device.
First and foremost is a public service message: Don’t drink the punch. This is especially important for young women. If it doesn’t have a cap on it or you don’t see it come out of a keg — don’t drink it. I lived in a fraternity house for three years and I know what horrible concoctions go into those horrible concoctions.
Hairy Buffaloes? I only wish that hair and buffalo were actual ingredients. I would feel safer. There is no recipe on earth that includes 190-proof Everclear and grape Kool-Aid, where 12 hours later you are going to wake up and say, “Well, that certainly had a positive impact on my life.” There is a reason that as of 2015, the sale of 190-proof Everclear is prohibited in California, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, New York, Nevada, Ohio, Washington, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Minnesota.
I understand today’s college students are now genetically attached to their phones. It is their whole life and that is not going to change. Whether we understand the need to stare at a 3-inch screen and demand it entertain us 24/7 is not going to change just because they now live in a dirty dorm room instead of a dirty bedroom. However, phones and cyber-life tends to isolate, so GO OUTSIDE AND TALK TO PEOPLE.
I remember sitting with about 40 people in a dorm lounge watching the final episode of M*A*S*H during freshman year in 1983, or having 12 people in my room after dinner to watch Star Trek every night because I had one of the few color TVs. It was how we communicated; we simply turned in the direction of the other person and words came out of our mouths.
We played softball, drank beer, studied together, ate pizza and generally learned to deal with people with whom we had very little in common. We anticipated great adventures for after college, and planned for futures that never included water softeners going bad, lawn mowers that wouldn’t start or fixer-uppers that included a colony of brown recluses in the attic.
Here is another free piece of advice for America’s Next Top Student: If you have a professor with a diametrically opposing political view, smile at him, listen to everything he says, answer the questions exactly as he wants you to, get your grade and move on. Then roast him during the end-of-class survey.
There is very little that actually goes from the classroom to the workplace anyway. Employers will teach you exactly how they want things done. If you think your new employer needs a good laugh, just say to them, “But that’s not how they told us to do it in college?”
College is rarely a place where one simple “accumulates” knowledge. It is where one learns how to process knowledge, deal with deadlines, challenge expectations, anticipate changes, and most importantly, understand you are not unique or special, regardless of what every other human caretaker has told you your entire life.
So to my young son, who right now is trying to flap the dew off his neophyte wings, I suggest you put a little Grateful Dead on the boom box, take it and a Frisbee outside, throw it and see who ends up on the other end of it.
It beats the heck out of spending $25,000 to stare at a phone for four years.
So make a few bad choices and disappoint your parents a little. After all, that’s what they did at college … and Grandma will tell you, they have it coming.
Follow Todd Lancaster on Twitter @blasterdog