Much about college is total BS. 90% of degrees are worthless. Wastes of time and money, left over from a bygone era where getting into and graduating from college actually indicated some degree of personal worth by which employers were impressed. Not anymore. Hell, I wasn’t even done with college before I realized that my experience was just a small speck in the blowing of smoke up the collective asses of modern American youth. (And providing carrion for debt collection vultures.)
Yet there are times I miss college. I think I miss it more often now than I did two or three years after I left. Back then I was still under the impression that I’d be able to get a decent job as a result of all the money, heartache and studying. But now that I see the educational forest for the trees, there is a clearer focus on a few aspects of the collegiate life that if I didn’t take for granted, I certainly did not savor as much as I could have at the time.
The things I miss about college probably are not the things you are thinking. To begin with, I was permitted a very large degree of independent thought and action when growing up. My mother respected my privacy. She didn’t harp on me to keep my room clean and didn’t quiz me on every little plan I made. So being in college wasn’t the release from prison that it is for many 18-year-olds.
It isn’t that hard getting pot at any age if one is so inclined, either. Beer, of course, is everywhere. If I were motivated by having lots of sex, I could find a way to make it happen today just as easily as I could have in college, had I been motivated by it then. (Which I wasn’t.) I still stay up all hours of the night, and in my neighborhood there is even distracting, unnecessary noise to give it that fresh, campus housing feel. I didn’t attend, nor was I invited to many parties in college, so I don’t miss the partying. In short, I don’t miss any of the “animal house” aspects of going to school.
I do miss the few good friends I made in college. Yet to me there is a difference between missing college, and missing individual people that I met at college. Truth be told, it isn’t difficult to visit any of them, should I want to do so. And with the advent of Facebook, many of my college friends don’t seem as far away today as they did in the first year or two after we all graduated.
I kind of miss the geographical proximity of everything that going to college, (at least a small one such as mine) allows. Food, mail, what passes for a police force, classes, clubs, and any of the previously mentioned friends are accessible just by walking. None of that driving in the ice. Just walk enough and you can get safely to wherever you need to be in all weather.
Yet one can still experience this outside of college. With a little research you too can live near the all-night market, or the shopping center, or the police station. Location, location, location.
No, what I miss most about college is the unified sense of purpose. The instant commonality with just about anyone else on campus. Whether you go to a small college like mine, or some huge university, you are surrounded by people in pursuit of the same broad goal, which is to obtain a college degree. True, some people pursued it with less vigor than others, but so long as they were there, in the very least, lip service was paid to the notion of taking classes and graduating. (Whether it be in four, or five-plus years.)
“What are you taking this semester? What’s your major? Who’s your advisor? Where are you living next year?” Instant conversation, almost anywhere you went on campus. Commonality.
When administrations screw the students over (as most of them usually do several times a semester), everyone from the people in front of you at the wilted-salad bar to the hot chick who always does her laundry at the same time as you is affected. And most are willing to complain about it.
Nobody wants to wait in line on steak night, but everybody does it. (Well, except the vegans but they have their own club on campus, to which they can walk every Thursday from whatever dorm they are in.)
I hesitate to use the word “community,” because that is a loaded word that gets those in the college PR departments sexually aroused, but which doesn’t in reality describe most campuses. You make a few friends and do your best not to fail out while trying to have some kind of fun on the side. The vast majority of your fellow students don’t give a crap about you, or the college itself, for that matter. (About as much as the college itself actually cares about them.) So commonality is the apt term. College is a structured collection of people all in the same proverbial boat that is higher education. You are in college, and you all have the same general mission.
You sure as hell don’t have as many opportunities to experience that after college as you do pot, booze, sex, and pizza. You can experience but mere shadows of that concept of commonality here and there after college. Certain high end apartment buildings, maybe. If you are lucky there is a semblance of it at your job. If you are part of a volunteer organization that is just right, you can experience it for a day or two at a time, I suppose. Yet by and large the only common ground you are going to have with the guy who lives across the hall or across the street from you after college is the weather, and the hope that somehow you will survive or escape the rat race.
And the next guy’s rat race is not your rat race. Though you could approach him and get to know his race, and share yours, (extroverts, to my amazement, do this all the time with strangers), the fact is there is always going to be a greater distance between you and the next guy, whoever he is, than there was at college.
The classes, the learning, the dormitories, the cafeteria, the weed, the booze, the sex, the parties, and the faux sense of “community” and “school pride”? Whatever. But to be able to open my door, sit down at lunch, or gather at the quad with people that no matter how divergent from me know at least a workable percentage of what I am going through right up front? Yeah, I’ll take that again.