Making the Most of Those College Years

Posted on September 11, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I recently marked the 18th birthday of my nephew and the advent of his freshman year by compiling a list of ways he could make the most of his college years. The list, initially posted on Facebook, was then published on the wonderful blog Grown and Flown, operated in part by my lifelong friend, Lisa Endlich Heffernan, and appeared today in print in our local paper, The Kalamazoo Gazette. It is available online here. Two points I’d like to add: 1) do some kind of internship and 2) don’t have unprotected sex.

One very sad thing is the comments that follow the link above, many of them hostile toward professors, college students, and indeed the very idea of higher education. There are so many points to argue with in these posts that I’ve refrained, but I do want to say that college is by any reckoning a beneficial investment in one’s future, political science degrees have value in the workplace (check out our Grand Valley State University political science alumni if you doubt that!), and just because you didn’t go to college doesn’t mean you should denigrate it for others.

The whole experience has been a quick education in the ways of social media. The original Facebook version of my list benefited greatly from the generous contributions of many of my online friends, former students, and colleagues. The blog version received more than 1800 direct hits within a couple of weeks, giving me more readers than have read some of my published books. And the online commentary makes me long for the days when the newspaper published “all the news fit to print,” and if you wanted to weigh in on it you had to type up a letter and pony up for a stamp. A mixed bag, but I’m happy to have had my thoughts on this topic shared more widely — especially since my nephew is now at college, and judging from his Facebook photos I’m pretty sure he’s following none of this advice.

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