Saturday, August 21, 2004

Rich college kids and their "problems"

Chuck Klosterman's review of "Real College," a dippy-sounding guide to college life, makes some good points. Klosterman notes that the sort of people who read these guides are the sort of people who care about succeeding in college and who probably don't need the guide in the first place. But this is where he stops making sense:

"Of course, for those who actually paid for college themselves, the repayment of student loans was the only 'real challenge' higher education ever presented; everything else was just sort of fun and exciting and amazingly drunken."

I was always under the impression that college is most "fun and exciting and amazingly drunken" for well-off college students who can devote more time and money to partying.

Klosterman goes on: '''Real College' tends to cover topics like dating and coping with social alienation and the best way to tell your roommate it's time to vacuum, all of which feel like problems only to 'real' people who don't have to worry about declaring bankruptcy if they don't find a job six weeks after graduation."

This is just not true. Roommate problems, dating problems, social alienation--these are problems for many students, no matter who's paying their tuition. (And, for those living at home for college, "roommate problems" are another matter entirely). Even Anne Frank had some approximation of "dating problems" in her family's attic; an American college student in 2004 who's paying his or her own way is no more exempt from such problems. I have yet to meet a fellow college student (or, for that matter, a fellow human being) who always has his or her problems in perspective, both relative to global problems and the personal problems relative to one another.

The Harvard student without any "real" problems is just about the easiest straw man to build. No, the ups and downs of privileged college students are second only to the ups and downs of obnoxious junior high school students in their apparent silliness. But reminding well-off students that their problems aren't "real" is no way to address the legitimate problem of the costs of higher education and the very unequal effects of those costs on different students.


Dylan said...

I think this post is brilliant, for one of the following reasons:

1. I have been drinking heavily.

2. It's 3:45 and I'm really tired.

3. It really is briliant.

I think it's a combination of 2 and 3, myself.

Anonymous said...

Dylan's faint praise demeans the first-class argument Phoebe puts forth. And I'm tanned, rested, and ready to go.

Anonymous said...

I went to college and graduated in 2004 with a BS Degree in Communication Arts...

I currently owe $42,000 in student loans.

I cannot find ANY JOB that pays more than 10.00 per hour (8.27 per hour after taxes)

This is the problem... If you have to barrow money to go to college IT'S SIMPLY NOT WORTH IT ANYMORE.

Employeers do NOT value a degree anymore. They value Experience and what I call "willingness to learn and become a part of the company team"

College Graduate in 2008 means: Lazy Spoiled Rich Kid who probably never worked hard a day in his life.