Should College Be One Big Party?

<p>I had the opportunity to chat with one of my neighbors recently. Just to give you some background, he runs his own business and has a laid back, outgoing personality. He was a jock in college and his wife was a cheerleader. They are both very attractive and come from wealthy families.</p>

<p>His S is currently a freshman at the same college that he graduated from. He is also on the same lacrosse team and in the same fraternity. This college is ranked as one of the top party schools in the country. My neighbor confessed to me that his college years "were the best years of my life!" He boasted that it was just one big party. He hopes that his S will also have a similar experience in college. He feels that since his S is a good "talker," he will have no trouble finding a job in sales when he graduates. He admitted that academics is of no concern to him as long as his S doesn't flunk out.</p>

<p>Needless to say, I was a bit surprised by his candor. I told him that I had a completely different outlook on college and felt that academics was our top priority for our D. In fact, she specifically chose her college because it did NOT have a party reputation.</p>

<p>I would like to do an informal survey of parents (as well as students). What are your priorities? Academics, social life, athletics, career preparation, self-discovery, or other?</p>

<p>My vote - academics and career preparation. The other items you mention will go along with it but academics are the prime purpose.</p>

<p>One doesn’t even need to go to college to ‘party’ so if that’s all they’re going to do then what’s the point (other than being able to say the got some kind of degree regardless of whether they learned much of anything or not)?</p>

<p>I would say academic, career prep. and self-discovery probably in equal amounts. Athletics are great, but D has been form that she is picking a school for academics and self-discovery and if athletics work out it’s a perk. I believe that she does need some of that “self discovery” component and may end up paying a premium to get it. S15, on the other hand, is a “talker” and has more of the innate social skills and drive to go places in many fields. I worry less about where he ends up because he really does make is own way in life differently than sister who is more reserved. He also has that entrepreneurial bug where he was always wanting to set up a lemonade stand and is happy to sell team raffle tickets etc.
I think that there probably are areas of the country and social/economic circles where it’s more about who you know than what you know to a degree. If son of neighbor maintains geographic and social connections and gains some skills he may have a leg up into some fields. He also may have reserves in place such that he doesn’t need to really make a living right away or pay off student loans. That is not our situation. My “talker” will not have the benefit of a trust fund, alumni association or country club connections behind him so he will have to do more than have fun.</p>

<p>My son is a student athlete (lacrosse Div 1) and I can confirm that players have to meet and maintain respectable academic standards to play. Especially if on scholarship. Every student athelete in a competitive program has their grades monitored by the coach or AD. I would be the first to admit (also my personal experience) that most student athletes study hard and play hard, that typically includes partying. So depending on where your neighbor attends school I doubt that he is just partying every night unless he is in a lower level program or academic environment. I love sports but my son seems like he is enjoying the overall experience, which includes most importantly getting a good education.</p>

<p>Academics and Career preparation.(and hopefully self-discovery and, you left out, maturity)</p>

<p>…but I’m sure my daughters have and will take care of the other items without any encouragement from me…</p>

<p>saintfan: cross posted but couldn’t have said it better myself: no trust fund, no connections so you better be doing something more than “having fun”</p>

<p>Career preparation, academics, independence – and if they’re lucky, opportunities to explore interests that they may not have a chance to explore at other times in their life and/or opportunities to make really good friends – especially in the kinds of group friendships that flourish at college but not in many other settings.</p>

<p>Although the first three of these things are the main reasons why most young people are at college, I think that those who say that their college years were the best years of their lives are remembering the chances they had to do things that few people get to do again – such as playing a team sport or living with a group of very good friends.</p>

<p>My kids used to attend an expensive private prep school. I’d say the vast majority of parents didn’t know or care about the academics at the school, nor did they care about which college in particular their kids would attend. </p>

<p>I have family members who do not distinguish between low level academic colleges and higher level ones and in fact tell me emphatically it is more difficult for their kids to get into their schools than it is for mine. They also believe it makes no difference whatsoever where you go to school. My own family members sound like the OP’s neighbor. They had a great time in college at frats and partying and are seeking that for their kids.</p>

<p>My hope for my children is to be engaged intellectually, grow as human beings, learn how to transition into adulthood and I hope they make some good friends and maybe even experience love. I hope they have a great time with that. I hope they graduate ready to enter the workforce. I don’t think they will necessarily get “job” training.</p>

<p>I wouldn’t consider a bunch of colleges that are primarily just party schools and near remedial education. My kids as of high school age don’t drink and aren’t wild party kind of kids. I doubt given their personalities that will change a lot. But I remember some of my fondest memories in college were spent in the dorm with friends, the study sessions meeting people from all over the world. I learned a lot from the different life experiences of various students. I was exposed to so much in college it made me a much more open minded person. Not in the sense of anything goes, but different view points and cultures.</p>

<p>Wow, the responses so far have been very thought provoking. Keep 'em coming!</p>

<p>I hope S matures, learns about and nourishes his academic strengths. Party…well he can do that better/easier if he kept his HS restaurant job and lived at home, I guess. I’m sure it will happen to a degree but I don’t think it’s the primary reason to go.</p>

<p>There are certain careers for which the material covered in the college classroom is likely to be secondary to the skills learned in social settings and the connections made through social interactions, organizational membership, etc. </p>

<p>Sounds like the neighbor is in such a field and sees his son going into one as well.</p>

<p>I’ve never understood students/parents who searched for colleges for the “party experience”. If my desire was to party my post-high school life away…one would probably be able to do that for half the cost of your average full-pay private college, do it in NYC, see more of the city/people without “distractions” like classes, and still have plenty of money left over if you do it right. </p>

<p>Incidentally…the only kids I’ve known with such an ingrained attitude like this tended to be overwhelmingly from upper/upper-middle class suburbia/neighborhoods. </p>

<p>If a kid in my old working-class NYC neighborhood was dumb enough to even hint at this being one of his/her primary criteria for college searches…the common parental response was to conclude the child in question is too immature/lacking in proper priorities* to attend college. They’d be expected to find a job right out of high school and/or enlist in the military to “mature up” first. </p>

<li>Academics/learning is always the primary priority.</li>

<p>A series of smaller parties, with very brief recovery periods, makes much more sense.</p>

<p>His son’s Facebook page (which is not private) indicates that some of his favorite activities include partying, drinking, smoking marijuana, and sex. One of the photos includes a picture of a semi-naked girl passed out on a picnic table surrounded by empty bottles and cans.</p>

<p>I really don’t understand how a parent can condone or encourage this type of activity, but maybe it’s just me.</p>

<p>UMD: I literally almost spit out my tea onto my keyboard…it’s not just you…</p>



<p>Add “learn how to make Facebook page private” to the list of things I hope he learns…before college, actually ;)</p>

<p>I think this dad may be surprised to find that many of the so-called party schools of yesteryear (his days) will expect his son to do a lot more than he did.</p>

<p>edited to add…just saw the FB post …what school is this? Anyway…if this kid is a frosh, he may end up flunking out. Schools are getting more and more demanding.</p>

<p>I mean, seriously, those activities are fun.</p>

<p>^^spoken like a true college student…</p>

<p>yes, they are “fun” but to spend $50,000/year to get them? heck, stay home and go to the local hangout…</p>

<p>There are a lot of parties in life - you had better learn to navigate them if you want to do well in life.</p>

<p>His folks are in for the 50k and it sounds like they are okay with it.</p>