College is a refuge from hasty judgment.
– Robert Frost
We took our high school graduate to his college orientation last week to get him signed up for fall classes and such.
I can’t tell you how excited I was.
We got a tour of the dormitories. We heard lengthy explanations of the “unlimited” meal plan.
We saw workout rooms with gym equipment, pool tables, big-screen TVs everywhere. And we heard about the “unlimited” meal plan.
We were greeted everywhere by friendly, eager students with Up-With-People smiles being achingly helpful and earnestly earnest. And they mentioned the unlimited meal plan.
“This isn’t a college,” I told our incoming freshman’s mother, “this is a health spa … with an unlimited meal plan.”
“He’ll be here to get an education,” she said firmly.
“I know,” I said. “Maybe I should join him.”
It wasn’t an original idea.
During one of the parental presentations, a college official was asked by a concerned mother, “Where are the ‘Mom Dorms’?”
Everyone laughed like she was just joking, but secretly I think they all were wondering the same thing.
“Well …” he admitted slowly, “a few years ago we did have one mother who paid to live in the dorm with her daughter as a roommate.”
You could almost sense the group’s collective unconscious considering the thought.
I sat there considering Carl Jung, the European thinker who championed the idea of a collective unconscious, which was something that I learned in college.
I learned a lot of things in college, actually, it’s just that I don’t remember them anymore.
I imagine many of you are the same. So do what I did. Years after I graduated I noticed that the alumni publication was offering a free transcript of one’s classwork if requested. I sent for one.
When it came, I sat there and marveled at all the stuff I had not only studied, but apparently passed. Botany and geology and astronomy and economics? Didn’t remember a bit of it.
I saw I had taken eight physical education courses, enough to claim a minor in this realm of intellectual endeavor. Among them were (no kidding) Co-ed Badminton and Theory of Sport. But such whims, I do remember, were rare.
I remember insufferable philosophy courses taught by professors you couldn’t argue with. I remember unintellible math courses taught by professors who could not speak English.
I remember history courses so boring that I once fell asleep in the middle row of a lecture hall and woke up two hours later … in the middle of a different history lecture.
Every time I think it would be fun to go back to school now that I know all the answers, I remember collegiate reality – the class part – the tests and mid-terms and quizzes and research papers, the professors and lectures and the all-night study expectations.
I remember all that and the fact that real life doesn’t include an unlimited meal plan. So I go back to work.