Sadly for their Marxist professors and Bernie Sanders, it seems these kids, even at the age of 18, have already embraced the middle-class bourgeois values of most other Americans.There's not much learning going on. Over the weekend, news has reached Cold Spring Shops of the crybullies at Brown University expecting accommodation (the latest euphemism for "deadlines waived") for time spent protesting. As Katherine Timpf quips, "Honestly, I don’t see why a social-justice activist would need to spend money on an education anyway . . . it’s so clear that they’re already so much smarter than the rest of us."
According to the survey, 82 percent of freshmen considered it “very important” or “essential” to be “very well off financially.” That’s the highest number since the survey started 50 years ago (when it was only 47 percent) and it’s 5 points higher than just five years ago.
You can chalk up that rise to a stagnant economy, though in 1975 things were not exactly looking rosy. More likely it’s the fact that a lot more kids are going to college now and a higher percentage of them are from working-class backgrounds. They’re staking everything on college boosting them into the upper, or at least the middle, classes.
Whether their college education will accomplish that is another story. Their professors and administrators seem sadly focused on creating the next revolutionary vanguard rather than teaching them how to be better readers and writers.
Ms Riley notes that there might be a reality check facing these students, when their hopes of living like Republicans collide with their inability to work like Republicans.
While close to 40 percent of students say they feel frequently overwhelmed by their academic workload, more than twice as many as in 1985, we know that the average number of hours that students spend in class and studying has gone steadily down. (Maybe all that protesting is taking up too much time.)Plus one more trip to the battlefields of the sixties.
So college isn’t doing much to prepare them either in terms of the skills they need for jobs or in other ways.
And, ladies and gentlemen, if you’re overwhelmed by college, just wait for real life.
The one way in which the college experience used to be unique was in giving young adults the opportunity to study great texts and ask questions away from the demands of jobs and outside the context of the prevailing cultural and political winds.The interpretation of that "meaningful philosophy" response has surely mutated over the years. When I first started following the curriculum wars, in the late 1980s, the contrast between the meaningful philosophy answer and the being well off answer was a way to lament either the careerism of students (business! engineering! pre-law!) or to paint Thirteenth Generation students as crass and philistine in comparison with the campus radicals. The more intriguing shift is today: perhaps the institutions that Ms Riley and Ms Timpf obsess over are overrun with social justice warriors, and perhaps they've already formed their meaningful philosophies, although there was a lot of the same "we know what the answers are, change the institutions" arrogance among the hippies.
Perhaps it seems romantic now, but it was a time for students to understand their own purpose in the world. Today, less than half of freshmen think it’s essential for them to “develop a meaningful philosophy of life” compared with 68 percent in 1975.
Maybe these 18-year-olds simply believe this notion is too abstract to worry about. More likely, though, they already think they have one.
How relevant, though, are any of these skirmishes are to the great mass of students in the land-grants and mid-majors and regional comprehensives and community colleges?