College: shiny and expensive

Things I’ve learned from our ongoing tours of the finest scientific and technical institutions of the Northeast:

  • Classrooms no longer have wooden seats from before the Great War in which you desperately try to find a comfortable position after an hour’s recitation on the Finnish Resistance, only to find that an entire side of your body has gone to sleep and you are involuntarily groaning as you rearrange limbs.
  • We’ve seen professors eating in the student center. As if they existed outside the classroom. (This may be a trick played on prospective students.)
  • Pools and fitness centers at every campus are more beautiful than the Taj Mahal. (Ours was more like descending into the Grotto of Eternal Dank.)
  • The curriculum is back! Some courses are actually required, Eurocentric or not! (So take that, dead-white-men-hating hippies!)
  • At most schools, arts classes are no longer limited to arts majors. The technical schools even encourage that you use that other side of your brain now and then, and practice rooms are not reserved exclusively for music majors. (In fact, some dorms have rooms for schlep-free practicing).
  • There is coffee everywhere. This is a major and welcome change. In my day, there were two places on the Quad to get coffee, and it wasn’t possible to get through either of them in the 10 minutes between classes.
  • There is also food everywhere. Not sure if that’s good or not, but it’s certainly of a wider variety than we were offered. A bagel was considered exotic back then.
  • Bicycles are everywhere. It warms my heart. (Helmets, not so much, but who needs a helmet in the city, right?)
  • Colleges today actually care if you succeed. They even do things to make it happen. (So take that, student strike hippies!)
  • They not only care if you succeed, they seem to want you to get out and get jobs.
  • At the good schools,  job fairs attract real companies, the kind you hear mentioned on the stock report. At journalism school, our job fair attracted The Weekly Reader and Ranger Rick. And those were the good jobs.
  • Those stores are only selling bongs because of the student interest in materials science that makes heat-resistant glass. I’m so sure. And the hemp advocates are only looking out for the working farmer.
  • Unlike in my day, students are no longer limited to 10 hours of computer time per semester. I think that’s probably a good thing.

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