College vs. Real World

<p>I teach at a foreign university. One difference between Europe and America is that over here no one juxtaposes "college" vs. "the real world". No one imagines these to be separate spheres. Students go to college as workers go to their jobs.</p>

<p>It is the American "campus culture" that fosters this division, that is also why so much space here on CC is devoted to questions of campus culture and "fit".</p>

<p>What are your thoughts on this creation of "artificial worlds" at colleges?</p>

<p>I think it's one of the reasons I loved my time at Johns Hopkins in the early '70s: after freshman year, there were very few dorm spaces available, and most of us headed out into the student ghetto to rent apartments in row houses. I was not just able, but <em>required</em> to learn to <em>live</em> and not just be sort of protected full-time by my college. It was one of the most important parts of growing up, for me. My classes and many of my EC activities were campus-centered, but nowhere near all of them: I had a city to explore and a life to live!</p>

<p>These days, students (or their parents at least) seem to want a more protective environment, looking for guarantees of on-campus housing for four years. Although I see the point of their desires, for me that would have been a negative. I guess it's because of this "closer to real life" issue that I strongly prefer schools in or very near cities, and am hoping my own kids take that into consideration, if they feel ready for it. (The first one did, now let's see how the second one goes...)</p>

<p>What about British schools like Oxford or Cambridge..are they not their own worlds with very distinct cultures, or were you not including the British?</p>

<p>I think more employees would be happy if they took the time to find "fit" with employers. College IS the real world.....</p>

<p>Perhaps Americans are just more "conscious" about their or college. Conscious choices are important......</p>

<p>I agree, Oxford and Cambridge are probably the exception to my generalization and perhaps were the models for the original American universities founded in or shortly after the colonial period.</p>

<p>Colleges should be the greenhouses of new thought, ideas, technologies and the like. Not all are. Some are like factories, staid institutions, passing on ideas that have been dreamed up elsewhere. If I had a choice, I would place myself near the dreams and the dreamers. I have been there a few times in my life and it is exhilarating. If this is the artificial then give me more. And I am too old perhaps to be thinking this way! : )</p>

<p>overseas, yes, I think that is an American strength: supporting and encouraging dreamers.</p>

<p>I love the way (many? most?) American colleges gradually expose students to the real world. Freshmen in most places are living on campus, and eating in the dining hall. Over the next few years, as they grow comfortable, they venture further and further out. By senior year, students may be living off campus, grocery shopping, cooking, holding down internships or research assistanceships, have spent summers job hunting, juggling finances.... In Germany, only kids from certain high schools go to university (although there are other technical colleges that most anyone can go to), and it is paid for, along with a monthly paycheck, from the government. My H's company takes tons of interns from the local Hochschule (technical college), and although they have to apply, it seems to be pretty easy to get into. I'm not really convinced, from what I see (Germany has an unemployment rate of something like 11%) that this is "real life."</p>

<p>I guess what I'm saying is that, both sides have strengths, but I prefer the American way.</p>

<p>I had the rest of my life to live in the "real world".....Those first few years in the city in my 20's were the most exhilarating and challenging times I've ever had......but there's no reason to rush to it....College days were special because they were different years, unique irreplaceable years. We had internships that got us "out there" , too.. but there's no need to rush into it all so early...</p>

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<p>I think of it more like a transitional world, like some posters have said - where students usually move in a positive continuum toward adulthood. If that's not happening, I think there will be issues later. I do think that some colleges are indeed sequestered little artificial worlds and I think those students might have more of an adjustment to make after graduation. Some of them move back home and continue the transition there. What's the term? Twixters or something like that.</p>

<p>I think that parents create twixters more than the college a kid attends.</p>