University experience far exceeds content posted in biased articles
BuzzFeed and Thought Catalog, two of the most egregious offenders, seem convinced that college will be the best time of your life.
Their posts, or at least the ones that wash up on my Facebook feed, try to argue that college is as good as your life is going to get and that graduation is basically the death of everything you find fun.
For the most part, these posts are inoffensive—humorous at best and annoying at worst.
But buried beneath the hypnotic GIFs and melodramatic hyperbole is a crass oversimplification of the college experience.
You can pretty much sum up the reasoning in these articles with three words: sex, sleep and alcohol.
Now, I’m no college graduate, but I’ve heard that there are more opportunities to sleep, drink and have sex even after you get your diploma.
College is not the only time in your life for you to pursue these pleasures.
Focusing solely on sleep, sex and alcohol, however, obscures other aspects that qualify college as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Granted, to some extent, these articles do have a point.
Sure, in theory, there’s nothing quite like four years of living and studying with other undergraduates who are also trying to negotiate their way to adulthood.
And yeah, it’s pretty fun to experience life at the crossroads of minimal responsibility and maximum ability.
But the reality is that, if you were really concerned about preserving a carefree college lifestyle, you could do so well beyond graduation.
It would just require a bit of sacrifice. This seems unfair until you realize that such a lifestyle, especially in college, is actually fueled by sacrifice—and that’s what the writers of these pro-college posts seem to forget.
A little bit of math confirms that, barring any financial aid, the average student enrolled full-time at Villanova pays approximately $280 dollars a day to live on campus.
Someone’s footing that bill, whether it is the University, the parents or the student. And the costs rack up quickly.
One day at Villanova costs almost as much as a full-time minimum-wage job in Pennsylvania pays in a week.
Over the course of a school year, the cost of study at Villanova is roughly the median annual household income in the United States.
Paying that amount of money, at least for most people, is certainly a sacrifice.
Disregarding price, college can be pretty awesome.
But if all you’re focusing on, as these articles do, is the ability to drink whenever you want and mingle with a large pool of young, attractive people, then you’re essentially paying tens of thousands of dollars for a glorified singles bar. Spoiler alert: singles bars will be available to you long after graduation.
Sure, as these articles suggest, once you’ve entered the real world, you probably won’t be able to go out every night of the week.
You likely won’t be able to nap whenever you want or wear sweatpants all the time, either.
But neither will you be able to attend classes about the topics that interest you, nor will you have direct access to some of the most talented professors in your chosen field.
You will have to work harder to seek out the intellectual challenge and growth that you (hopefully) experience every day here on campus.
These are the aspects that truly make college a once-in-a-lifetime experience and are not included in these articles.
To some extent, everyone knows the value of a college education.
One Georgetown study claims that over their lifetime, workers with bachelor’s degrees earn 84 percent more than workers whose education does not exceed a high school diploma.
If everyone knows this, what’s the harm in a few articles glorifying the other benefits of the college experience?
First, putting aside the conversation about how education should be an end in itself (and not merely a means to a well-paying job), these articles take a privileged stance on the college experience.
They read like lists of first-world problems, only without the requisite self-awareness.
To take this a step further, implicit in the glorification of one lifestyle is the oppression of another.
These articles help create a dominant narrative that excludes people who, for personal or religious reasons, may abstain from sex or alcohol.
They also assume a base level of financial means and family support that some students simply do not have.
In short, despite what these articles imply, there is no one right way to experience college. To be clear, I’m not trying to condemn the entirety of these articles.
Everyone can relate to the desire for comfy clothes or sleep, and nothing capture a given emotion quite like a well-chosen GIF.
But it is undeniably a privilege to be able to attend college and too often these articles treat it as a right. These articles, even if only for humor’s sake, encourage feelings of entitlement that can grow to be harmful if unchecked.
BuzzFeed, Thought Catalog and countless other sites can agree that college is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Yet, given the soaring price of tuition, it’s important to keep in mind the immense value and privilege of a college education. Only then can you fully realize how great the college experience truly is.