Opinion » Note

The Old College Try


The College Experience is one of those cultural rites that Americans can't seem to get enough of. Ask a member of the Greatest Generation about his or her school days and you'll be treated to a dewy-eyed time trek that will ultimately result in the conviction that kids were once more innocent, professors sterner (in a good way) and institutions actually meant something. Talk to a Baby Boomer and you'll be reminded "they" were responsible for the Civil Rights Movement, reproductive rights, the triumph of rock 'n' roll and the end of the Vietnam War. Gen-Xers will tell you about smoking dope and inventing punk, grunge and irony. (Oh, and cynicism, too.)

The nostalgia levels are nearly toxic. Don't believe me? Look no further than the beery genre of old-buddies-reunite-for-shenanigans-with-the-youngsters films, featuring a rotating stable of paunchy dudes.

My own experience wasn't very colorful. I was in the cohort of kids who entered college just as everyone was discovering the miracle of "The Web." Electronic mail, instant messaging, MP3 file sharing, LAN parties, these were all revolutionary concepts. Looking back on my own College Experience, a lot of it operated within the confines of Windows 98. As such, the nostalgia trip for my generation will feature a lot of films about dorm-dwellers getting carpal tunnel and cracking out on energy drinks. That and 9/11.

Those trends have only accelerated. My wife, preparing for her third year as an adjunct professor at Boise State University, has had to repeatedly update her syllabus to keep pace with the technology that co-eds can and can't use in class. It used to be laptops, then it was phones, then tablets, now it's smartphones and tablets. Next it'll be Google Glass or something equally obnoxious. On top of all that, it's now insanely expensive--more so even than when I graduated just 10 years ago. Debt and social isolation. Not a very inspiring buddy movie premise.

There are some universal truths, though: Students will enter college not knowing where to go, how to navigate between freedom and obligation, and who to ask for help. In honor of this yearly transition from summer to school, Boise Weekly offers a brief guide that will (hopefully) help ease the passage for a few future grads. As for getting out of their rooms and creating some nostalgia-worthy escapades, there's no guide for that.