A Necessary Correction, Some Might Say
Until I reached the end, I wasn’t going to bother commenting on Bob Kerr’s column, today. It’s all emoting, no solutions. Or rather, in the typical fashion of typical liberals, Kerr’s solution is an implied government gimme. But the daughter of the woman who receives most of Kerr’s attention makes a complaint — a set of complaints — worth noting:
“I don’t have a day off,” she says. “I’m in class or working. It’s seven days a week.”
She says students are more worried all the time and few see a future for themselves in Rhode Island.
“We’re not really having the experience of college,” she says. “It’s like no one’s having fun anymore.”
To be blunt, too much cultural effort has been invested, over the past few decades, in creating this notion of “the experience of college.” Too many movies have romanticized it. Too many parents have told their children that it is the time of their lives (in part because the parents never figured out how to make the remainder of their own lives meaningful, I guess). And too many students have stridden from the campus, degrees in hand, with a backwards concept of the world of which they’d been promised conquest.
All of the saving and borrowing and scholarship funds and government grants invested in higher education ought to be incompatible with the premise that the college experience is primarily about fun. It is primarily about learning, about enhancing one’s opportunities for the future.
Let’s not pretend, furthermore, that the necessity of seeking opportunities in another state after graduation from a Rhode Island institution is anything new. It is one of the shameful characterizing qualities of the state, and not a problem apt to be fixed with complaints that the state government apparatus isn’t helping enough.