Student unrest

What happened to my dreams of how college would be?

Hannah Jones is a student at Sacramento City College who plans on transferring to Sacramento State in the fall.

Beer-pong tournaments. The “freshmen 15.” Binges. Arguments with roommates. Soft-core-porn-esque study sessions. Regrets. More binges.

At least, that’s the romanticized version of college my generation dreamed of as we watched movies like Van Wilder, Animal House and even the primped-up Legally Blonde. We couldn’t wait to escape the hell of high school—get away from our restrictive parents, from the faculty that made it practically impossible to miss class, from everyone we had grown up with. We craved the independence that college would surely bring.

If only we’d known.

What’s our reality like now? We sit in overcrowded classrooms where professors pray for students to drop out in hopes that the claustrophobic atmosphere will diminish. It is practically impossible to get into even the least desired class. Wait lists should be renamed to wait scrolls since, with unemployment growing, more and more people are hitting the books. At my school, the administration has just cut more classes and increased fees without any benefit to the student body. Awesome.

Meanwhile, paying for school is a bitch. Tuition, books, even parking passes are way overpriced. They’ve got us by the balls. It’s sort of like health care, but that’s another story. Even with student loans, most of us need jobs.

Still, I am one of the lucky ones. I have a part-time job, and I do not have any children or people to look after. But I still work way too much to study half as much as I should, and I could really use more hours. Credit-card debt piles up. And what about the parties? The binges? I don’t remember the last time I had a Friday or Saturday night off, but even if I did, I don’t have a dollar to spare. That goes to the $150 mandatory textbook that may never be cracked.

This isn’t a list of complaints, it’s more like a cry of confusion. I’ve overheard my elders say that the college experience has always been this way, but I find that hard to imagine. For the normal student with a middle-class background, times have certainly changed. My eldest brother, who is 13 years my senior, had a completely different college experience than the one I am currently stuck in—and we come from the exact same womb.

But what are we to do? If we don’t go with the system, our résumés have holes and we must endure cutthroat competition for the most simple-skilled jobs. If we do go with the system, we face four or five years busting our butts only to receive 10 to 15 years of debt to pay off later. Also a somewhat enlightened mind—but is that really of use anymore?

I couldn’t wait for college, and now I can’t wait for it to be over.

President Barack Obama promised change. If it is coming, it will be an extremely long process. Much longer than by the end of my college career. I’m not sure how, but we need to make sure that our kids don’t have to go through this, too. Let’s bring back the togas and the beer pong and the easygoing aspect of college so that the next generation can learn without so much pressure.