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The More Things Change in College...

Fri, 11/12/2010 - 11:30am | By: Beth Taylor

This morning as I came into work I got a little nostalgic for the “good old days” when I was a college student. I smiled as my memory reassured me that was a carefree chapter in my life. I was thinking how lucky these students are to “still” be in school. I know times have changed, but everything about college remains the same, right?

Well, that myth was shattered quicker than AARP sends membership offers to my house.

I noticed students walking to class with cell phones attached to their ears, or Bluetooth receivers in their ears making them seem as though they are talking out loud to themselves, or iPod earbuds hanging down like stethoscopes listening to a beating heart. I wondered what there was to talk about at that time of day. Between last night and this morning all I had done was sleep, wake-up, and get to campus.  

The next thing I noticed were the cups in almost everyone's hand. Everybody had a vice-like grip on a $3 or $4 cup of coffee. There were foam cups with lids, paper cups with a cardboard wrapper to keep palms from getting burned, and some had stoppers protecting the liquid within from spilling or getting cold. My coffee was in the re-fillable, earth-friendly, I'm-not-spending-$4-on-coffee, filled at home, travel mug.

What looked odd was that nobody seemed to have a free hand to carry books or open doors to buildings and class rooms. There were backpacks draped across backs, purses and messenger bags slung over shoulders, all with no visible books or notebooks. I did notice that even with phones, mp3 players and cups of whatever, most everybody had at least one finger available to pop those handicapped accessible buttons controlling the automatic doors.

Once in my building, I walked past an open classroom door. A quick look inside had me thinking the memories of my college days were the things old people talked about while discussing hip replacement and cataract surgery.

Instead of wooden desks where others had carved their initials, there were tables with chairs  … chairs that looked comfortable enough for my middle-aged spread. I saw only one or two opened notebooks and students holding pens. Everybody else was clicking away on laptop keyboards, the tiny keyboards of netbook, or the no-keyboard-keyboards of an iPad device. None of these folks were doomed to ink stains on their fingers or trying to read their own scribble the night before a test.   

As I turned to walk to my office I caught a glimpse two students leaving that class. One turned to the other to comment: “I can forget about having a good weekend. I've got a paper due and a test Monday, but I'll meet you tonight for sure!”

I suppose some things about college never change.