About Me

My name is Spencer. I'm 23 years old, and I'm a junior at Princeton. So far college has taken me five years. I've taken time off to work, transferred to USC and come back, and learned a lot along the way.

I like to think about life and what I'm going to do with mine.

I've met a lot of people my age with the same sorts of thoughts so feel free to read, take surveys, and comment.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Listen and learn: Ignorance is bliss

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. I will now continue on with my series of posts about a conversation I had with a dear friend's father who I have dubbed Kevin for simplicity's sake.

In my last post, Perfection, I recalled what advice Kevin gave me about perfection: to strive for it, but never expect it. As we continued onward into deeper and more personal beliefs and ideas, I came to the realization that many people never contemplate maturity, perfection, college, stress, or life etc as I did with Kevin. To be blunt about it, I believe that many people either do not want to think about such things or simply aren't capable of thinking in such a way.

That does not mean that I find most people stupid or incapable, I am only suggesting that such deep contemplation of ideas requires a lot of maturity, life experience, and big picture thinking. Many people, as I have discussed, lack such a maturity until they are much older, if at all, and some cannot see past the little details and onto the big picture.

Some may realize that there is far more inside themselves to contemplate, but try as best they can to avoid confrontation and ignore any deep thoughts. In my opinion, the reason is fairly simple: thinking so deeply about one's life may open doors that one may not want to look behind. For example, a capable, relatively smart person who works a blue-collar job may not want to think about his or her life in the grand scheme of things. He or she may know, deep down, that they really don't like his or her life, job, or marriage so that person chooses to ignore any such thoughts (either subconsciously or on purpose depending on the person). By going on with life and not worrying about those thoughts, such a person can continue "fooling" him or herself into happiness. I say "fooling" because it's not true bliss, but simply the illusion of such a feeling; yet, one cannot deny that if a person really believes that he or she is happy, then that individual is no doubt happy as a clam. For those people, if you feel and believe it, then it doesn't matter whether or not it's actually true.

On the opposite side of the spectrum are those people who constantly inspect their lives and point out what's gone wrong or not according to some plan. Once someone like that begins to contemplate his or her life in such a way, he or she will most likely never think about him or herself in the same way again. Things will never be quite good enough or "according to plan," and such thoughts can only lead to extreme amounts of stress and depression.

Nevertheless, there are many types of people that range the gamut of said descriptions, but I'd say that most people are somewhere in the middle. Most of the time, they are happy go lucky, but on down days, they sulk and get depressed about their lives, and in many cases, once a person takes that first step into deeper thought, along comes a so-called "mid-life crisis," where that individual wonders who they are. Ultimately, my realization gave a lot of credence to the saying: "Ignorance is bliss." Many people choose to ignore or cannot think so deeply, and by doing so, they "fool" themselves into bliss.

In the end, I can't tell whether I envy the person who never gets to explore such areas of his or her mind, or whether I feel sorry for the person who cannot help but sorrowfully contemplate his or her life because it's not the way they thought it would be.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy holidays

Happy holidays to everybody who reads or simply runs into my blog!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Listen and learn: Perfection

"Strive for perfect, but never expect it." My good friend's father, let's call him Kevin, told me this the other day. It's something that I had known, or that I had at least come across earlier, but I had never paid much credence to it. I think that it's very difficult to separate the expectation from the action of trying to reach perfection, especially now when it seems as though nothing is ever good enough to get you into a good school or get you a good job, etc.

Nevertheless, after having that conversation with Kevin, it forced me to acknowledge that expecting perfection can only lead to an even greater amount of stress in an already high stress world. In other words, always try to do my best for the things that really matter to me, but if they don't work out as planned, everything will be okay. Don't look at it as something you "must simply live with" (that doesn't allow you to fully accept the outcome, good or bad), but imagine it more as a different outcome that may or may not lead somewhere else, perhaps an even better place than you thought was possible. You never know what's coming up, no matter whether you've achieved that "perfection" or not, and things will always change for better or worse. Just go with your own flow.

From another perspective, this also does not mean that you or I have to live with being "mediocre" in our own eyes (or even our parents' eyes), not by any means. As long as you can "strive for perfection," whether you reach it or not doesn't make you any more perfect, mediocre, bad, or any other adjective you could think of. The ability to try your hardest without any expectations is hard enough to master. Don't allow your parents and especially yourself apply gratuitous pressure and punishment upon yourself.

However, for those of you who can't help but over think and are "perfectionists" (for lack of a better word), it does become difficult to know whether or not you've tried your hardest. If you "fail" to reach your goal, you feel as though you haven't tried hard enough. But that's okay! It's all part of learning to strive for perfection but never expect it. I think that over time it will become increasingly easy to know when you've tried as hard as possible, and it will become easier to do that all the time. And keep in mind, you can always keep trying your hardest again and again, and, no matter what, that experience and practice will always get you closer and closer to your ultimate goal.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Listen and learn

This past weekend, I had a great conversation about college, life, stress, and finding oneself with my very good friend's father. We talked for what seemed like nearly two hours or more. We debated, we challenged each other, we thought together, but mainly, he helped consolidate and form many of the thoughts going through my mind in the past couple years or so.

The main points we covered were stress, maturity, college, and just how closely and intricately related they are in so many ways. Over the next weeks, depending on holiday family plans, I'm going to try to break up the conversation into smaller bits and pieces to post on YCT (Your College Thoughts).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Academic track in other countries

As far as I can tell, American students are some of the few people in the world who can switch their major as a college junior without any issues. The main point being: most of us Americans don't decide or know what we want to do until we've already graduated or even already had a couple jobs. However, from what I've heard from many friends, students, and family members who grew up outside the U.S., that is not the case in many countries throughout the world.

Let me first be clear and say that I think that freedom to decide is a great thing, and it can be very mentally stimulating; however, at the speed that the world goes at, indecisiveness can drag you behind. Not taking every single class towards your major(s) or minor(s) can lessen the pedigree of your degree and college education. Because of that and especially in the current economic climate, that indecisiveness may be the difference between getting a job out of college and living at home again.

In many developed countries, many students get one chance at standardized exams. If they do well, they go onto higher education and university, but if they do not do well, then they are sent to vocational and technical training schools to be trained for specialized jobs such as auto mechanics and electricians etc. Unlike the United States where, if you can afford it, you may take the SATs as many times as you please.

Also, there is a far greater pressure at a much younger age to know what you want to study and what you want to do as an adult. For example, a few years ago there was an piece on NPR about Job Theme Parks in Japan where elementary school-aged children went to get exposed to jobs they might find interesting. Here's an article in Sky news: http://news.sky.com/home/world-news/article/15196242

In many Asian countries, the expectation to do well is so great that there is an eerily high suicide rate among teenagers. Just Google anything along these lines and you'll find hundreds and hundreds of articles on the subject: http://www.economist.com/node/11294805http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-15331921http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn4846-indian-teens-have-worlds-highest-suicide-rate.htmlhttp://www.atimes.com/atimes/Japan/FG28Dh01.html, etc.

Do you think that this "freedom" to choose whatever classes and tracks we want hinders us or leads us to our passions?

Regardless, as the world works and travels faster and faster, it's hard not to see the correlation between high stress environments and mental pain, disability, and suicide. At this rate, we American students will have to know what we want to do earlier and earlier in order to stand a chance in this world, but that simply means more stress. We're going to have to look out for our friends, children, and students in the future.


*Although I've heard this from many different people in many different countries, keep in mind that I have never lived for longer than a few months in a country other than the United States. I was told these things by students I've met from other countries, friends from abroad, and family members. Perhaps, some international students would like to comment and give their opinions concerning this subject?*

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Stress release

I originally started posting about alcohol in excess because it is by far one of the most vocalized problem when it comes to college and kids of our age. Now, I'm going even deeper into what I find to be the main issue at hand that no adults or administrations seem to even recognize as problematic.

And that is: stress caused by the ever increasing amount of pressure that surrounds our education and our "futures." As I wrote before, the amount of pressure stemming from the need to succeed and do well continues to grow. In order to get into a good middle school, high school, college, grad school, etc or to find a great job, it seems as though we must not only be at the top of the class in school, but succeed at our extracurricular activities as well. This "be the best" mentality only seems to create more and more stress for us.

During middle school and high school, there may be limited stress releases depending on where you grow up, your parents, yours school, whether you smoke, drink, or do drugs, etc. But, when we get to university, the easiest and most popular stress release is alcohol.

Let's say you get stressed out and don't want to think about anything. You have so much work that keeps piling up. Your parents continuously nag you about this and that. You've barely slept in the past week. You're fighting with your friend or significant other. So what's the best way to just stop thinking and enjoy yourself: go out and get drunk. At university, it's readily available, and without your parents there, you can do whatever you want to. When you're drunk, you don't think about these stress related issues. You just let go of everything. You're more outgoing. You dance more (or better as some might think). You just feel good.

Let's be honest, a lot of us have done this before or do it currently. But think about it a little more. Here's where maturity comes into play. Don't you think that if we were all a little bit more mature, then we would be able to handle the extra stress and freedom that we experience in college. What if, after high school or Freshmen year, you took a year to work or travel and were able to relax a little bit? Take the weight off your shoulders and see what the real world is like. Do you think that would help?

Yes, I know that we do grow a lot our Freshmen year because of our experiences. Nevertheless, we are also simply at that age where we are just figuring out the world and what we want to do. Perhaps a little less stress would do us some good.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Too many prep classes

As a sophomore in high school, I started taking classes to prepare for the SAT exams. Every week I had extra homework, more class, and, on occasion, I had to take an extremely long practice exam. At the time, I hated having extra homework to do; all it did was make me go to bed later, drive to another place after practice, and give me more stress by highlighting the ever more present parental pressure to do well on my college entrance exams. Nevertheless, in the end, I knew the class had helped me do better than I would have.

In a similar vein, I recently found out that a kid I know is taking a prep course for the ISEE (the exam to get into private middle and high schools). A 6th grader!? I can't believe that ten and eleven year old children are now taking extra classes to get into middle school! That just seems so ridiculous if you think about it. It means that other children who can't afford these classes or don't know about them are at a severe disadvantage at the beginning of their educations whether they know it or not.

First and foremost, schools (starting from middle school or even earlier) are becoming so competitive to get into that sixth graders are attending prep classes for middle school entrance exam. We all know what that kind of competition feels like; we all applied to a ton of colleges and know how much of a crap-shoot it is.

Secondly, these classes end up putting a lot of pressure on the kids. At that age, the parents are the ones signing their kids up for these prep courses, and most likely, they will try to encourage (or pressure, in more realistic terms) their children to do better in order to go to the best middle school to get into the best high school and then attend the best university and so on and so forth. So many kids, even younger than our generation, are growing up only knowing that competition and pressure to do well. They grow up stressed before they know what the word even means!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Greater implications

Now that I've expressed some points of view and issues concerning excessive alcohol and binge drinking, I want to continue onward in related, but different directions. This will help clear up any questions from people who might wonder why I care so much about my peers getting drunk.

Let me start with this: do you think that we students begin college at too young an age?

I've been thinking about this for a long while, and I've recently come to the conclusion that I think we do begin university too early. I think that we're not as mature as we should be when we begin college and that that immaturity can lead to stress and a harder adjustment for many of us. More to come soon.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mike Greeny

Over my years in middle school, high school, and college, I have attended many mandatory alcohol education programs and classes (mainly boring lectures) starting from even the 8th grade. Our class had heard the same thing old speech so many times that these meetings felt like a tortuous waste of time in which we would be told what to do and what not to do.

Once I got to college I thought that I'd be done with all this nonsense, but I soon found out that I had to attend yet another mandatory athletes and alcohol talk.

The first thing I noticed when I walked into the huge classroom: only about 25-35% of the freshmen student athletes were even at the meeting. We had become so jaded by these pointless alcohol lectures that a majority of the students never bothered to show up.

The second thing: nobody cared who or how many students were present. Not a single teacher or coach came to see whether or not his or her team was present so I naturally thought that this would be another huge waste of time...

However, a couple minutes into the start of the discussion (Yes, it was a discussion, not a lecture.) I knew that this would be the most entertaining, attention-grabbing, and informative alcohol education meeting I'd ever been to. Our speaker Mike Green connected and interacted with us by involving the crowd with a lot of energy, asking questions about how much we drank, and getting us to speak up. He didn't tell us what to do. Rather, he empathized with us by showing that he knew what it was like to be a young person just starting university. He himself had been on a college football team pounding drinks and partying hard week-in and week-out. And through his different alcohol education methods, we were able to better understand the potential disasters and tragedies that can come out of binge drinking such as fatal car accidents, alcohol poisoning, and, in his case, alcoholism. Most of the time, we simply dismiss whatever we are told in these kinds of meetings; however, this time, because we trusted that Mike still remembered what it was like to be our age and because he never told us what to do, everybody payed attention and left with a better understanding of the potential dangers of excess alcohol to ourselves and the people around us.

Here's a video of Mike speaking: http://www.soccercoachtv.com/TheCoachShow/site/Show23/Show23home.html
If you're interested in Mike, check out his website: http://www.mikegreeny.com/
He travels all over the country to discuss binge drinking and alcohol safety at universities. If you'd like to have him speak to your class and/or athletic team, then please contact him!

Mike "Greeny" Green

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Going too far...

I just remembered the other day about some articles I had read concerning a very interesting and sad (but keep in mind rare) instance concerning a USC fraternity.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/10/usc-kappa-sigma-email_n_834035.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/meredith-fineman/uscs-kappa-sigma-women-ar_b_833935.html

Again, let me first be clear that I am not against Greek life, alcohol, or parties. I have experienced it all myself, but one things still puzzles me: why some students feel the need to get drunk and hook up in order to have fun. I'm letting you know my thoughts about some of that aspect of college culture, while thinking about ways to improve my own college life as well as that of my friends and peers.

This case in the articles is not a reflection of all, or even most, Greek life. Fraternities and sororities are undoubtedly a great place to meet new people and enjoy oneself; however, there are some extremes instances  that can come about as seen by the sexism, bias, and violent nature displayed by USC's Kappa Sigma.

These two articles are about a case of a frat who sent out emails to its members talking about fellow female classmates. It refers to women as objects and, for example, ugly women as filth among many other offensive, sexist, crude, and violent remarks. The whole message reeks of a primitive lifestyle that these boys seem to live by, where the rankings depend on whom you have sex with and how often you "get some". It's a sad reality that there are a rare group of people who look upon other people as simply "targets" and that do not regard non-consensual sex as rape. Such rare instances where these groups go unnoticed can lead to many cases of rape and sexual harassment that in my opinion, spoil college for everybody else and give Greek life and universities a bad name.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lowered drinking age?

I've gotten emails and comments giving me a simple solution to the alcohol problem: to lower the drinking age so kids get used to alcohol sooner. I will admit that I've thought about that solution before. Quite a lot in fact.

Although it may seem like a viable solution, I don't think it will work very well. Even if it exposes us to alcohol sooner than we normally would, our lives at home would stay the same. Most parents will still feel the same about alcohol regardless of laws. For example, driving a motorcycle is legal for kids if they have the proper education and license, but I doubt most parents will allow their kids to do so. It's also possible that such new laws will make already tense households and parent-child relationships even worse when it comes to alcohol, drugs, parties, and other related topics.

Beyond the issues that parents would have with it, I personally do not think that lowering the drinking age will drastically change the percentage of kids that experience alcohol before they reach the legal age. Where I grew up, alcohol was very accessible. Even from the ages of fourteen and fifteen, if you knew older kids or had an older sibling, you could get alcohol with ease. It was in abundance at parties and formals, and I'd say that many kids in my high school had experienced alcohol well before they went on to university. The only thing a lowered drinking age would do is make alcohol even more accessible to young people.

Also, the problem doesn't lie in exposure. Everyone must get exposed to alcohol eventually and figure out their limits and what they like and don't like. But why, even after we know our individual limits, do we continue to seek to get drunk or "hammered"? Why do we need alcohol to have fun? Are the two really correlated? The idea that fun and consuming alcohol are one in the same must change. By no means do I imply that everybody around our age does thinks that alcohol and fun are correlated, but, as I say in my "Minority" post, there are still a large amount of our peers that do. We should take the time to help them and future generations by changing that mentality.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Alcohol education


Whenever I've had alcohol edu at school, it's always the most boring and pointless waste of time. I've heard different approaches depending on the school and who teaches the "class". Among the various so called strategies I've heard, there are those who advocate no underage drinking at all, those who attempt to scare kids into never drinking through anecdotes about their alcohol and drug problems, those who just read from a rule book, and those who try to teach you the "science" and percentages concerning alcohol, legality, and poisoning. As far as I can tell, none of these ever seem to work. I get so bored and tired of just being fed the same information over and over again. Yes, I would say that some of the things, like how to recognize alcohol poisoning and what to do if it happens, are very important to know; however, in such settings, we don't ever learn it. Most of us don't even care to listen to what's being said at these mandatory meetings. If anything, we resent the fact that older people are telling us what to do without letting us have our say in the matter. I know that I, and I'm sure some of you, have a few friends who go crazy with the alcohol throughout their four years of college because they were too cooped up at home or had overly strict parents.

If we're lucky, we don't have to attend some meeting. Instead, we just have to flip through some slides and take an easy test online. But, to be honest, nobody does it. At my school, there's no penalty for not doing the prescribed alcohol education program. All the administration does is send you an annoying email once a week reminding you, and to top it off, you can just mark it as spam and never see it again.

I'm almost positive that I can speak for nearly everyone and say that we've never had an alcohol edu seminar or class that was nearly as effective as it should have been. In fact, there's only one alcohol edu program that I've ever been to that really made me think. The talk was for student-athletes only and was given by a former student-athlete with previous alcohol problems. He told anecdotes, got the crowd involved, and spoke from his heart; however, the fact that he understood what it felt like to be a college age student, the fact that he hadn't forgotten the experience like most adults, made us connect with him and be persuaded by his words. He lived that party hard life, and he went through the worst of its consequences. I think it was that understanding that allowed us to really get engaged and talk straightforwardly with him.
Unfortunately, that mandatory meeting was only for athletes, not the entire incoming class and not even 40% of the athletes showed up.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The tree

At my university, I'm on a varsity team that has both women's and a men's sides. We practice together and for the most part, we are all pretty close. A lot of kids on the team go to the same parties or throw team parties. We even have a team drink that's, well to be honest, it's terrible.

I occasionally went to team parties when I wasn't too busy but mainly when we, as Freshmen on the team, had to attend for various hazing rituals.

Anyways, we were on the road one weekend during my second semester when one of the Juniors whips out his computer and opens up a window with what looks like an ancestry or lineage tree or even a map of airline flights and destinations. There were little boxes with words in them and arrows and dotted lines going this way and that way. I was about fifteen feet off stretching as I thought, "Wait, that can't be a lineage tree. The lines are going everywhere, and almost every single box is connected." People started to crowd around to get a closer look. I heard people begin to laugh and give high fives, and there were even some looks of shock on some of the girls' faces soon followed by pointing and laughing with one another. I got up and went to inspect what all the fuss was about.

In each little box were the names of everyone on the team, minus, at most, a few. I could only assume what the arrows meant. It was a hook up tree (for those of you who don't know, hook up in this case means sex). I looked at it for a bit blocking out the laughs and high fives and reminiscing of my fellow teammates. There were arrows everywhere. Some had around ten little arrows pointing to their name and some had even more. I knew people got rip-roaring drunk at our parties and hooked up, but I had no idea that casual sex was so frequent and so, for lack of a better word, incestuous within the team. There must have been hundreds of dotted lines and arrows going this way and that way out of a total of about probably fifty or sixty names. And keep in mind, this was only within our small team. There are thousands of students at my university, meaning tens of thousands of dotted lines and arrows pointing from one student to another. A continuously growing chain.

Another surprise to me was that no matter what each Freshman was like in high school. Whether they drank or didn't drink or had sex before or were virgins, almost every single Freshman was on there connected to multiple people, including other Freshmen and upperclassmen.

I clearly remember a couple people say to other team members: "That didn't happen...no way! I don't even remember that." Another would reply: "You're right that was Jacob that she hooked up with that night." Then yet another would say: "Wait no...she hooked up Jacob on Friday, and with this guy that night." The creator of the tree then added: "Shit, I have to add that then."

Names are made up to protect identities.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Our parents' generation

Pretty much every single adult that I've talked to, including my parents, seemed to have enjoyed college. I've been going around asking my friends' parents and other adults I know (from the ages of 40-60), what they thought about college and what the social scene was like back then. So far, of the 15-20 graduates I've talked to, most tell me that there were parties and people did hook up, as they do nowadays; however, there were some obvious differences. Most of them don't recall such a large population of students excessively drinking and using drugs as there presently is. And along similar lines, many don't remember a lot of the social scene revolving around "getting fucked up" and engaging in meaningless sex. They told me that such social activities did occur back then, but with much less frequency and by far less people.*

An even larger distinction in their generation concerns how other students viewed those big partiers. Most parents tell me that those girls who slept around were labeled as sluts and looked at as such. Whereas now, I believe that we (most students), even those that don't sleep around, do not look at our peers as morally inferior or disgusting etc., and even if we do, it's on a much lesser scale than it was during our parents' generation. We've accepted the current social trend as fact and as just an aspect of college life. We don't necessarily have to like it, but why has such a social trend grown so fast? And why don't we do anything about it? Some teachers and administrations have tried and failed to curb such activities, but, as I mentioned in an earlier post, that's not going to stop anything. This needs to be a student movement, not an administrative one.

You may call me old fashioned based on the fact that this loosening of sexuality bothers me, but that's really not the point I'm trying to make. The purpose of what I'm writing remains that there has been a big social change. I'm not by any means making a commentary on women's rights or sexuality or anything related to that. I'm simply asking: why change in this direction? And why so fast? In seemingly one generation, the social culture of college has drastically moved towards a larger party scene with the main goal of getting drunk or getting a buzz and hooking up.

*Keep in mind that I've only talked to a very small group of individuals. I need to conduct a large survey to get an accurate description of college social life a generation ago. What I talk about here is purely based on those responses that I have gotten while talking to those fifteen to twenty adults.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Support (it's not out there yet)

Even though I feel that this topic concerning the excess of alcohol and binge drinking is widely known about, I don't think that it's being sufficiently talked about or has nearly enough eyes focused on it as it should have. In order to change and create safer drinking conditions, this subject needs more support from young, college age students!
Yes, there are very important and volatile things going on in the political, international, and especially financial worlds right now, but that still does not change the fact that college age kids and the generations after them are being adversely affected during some of the most important developmental stages of their lives, both mentally and psychologically. Think about it: each generation of college students will eventually take over for those political, international, and financial leaders that currently run the world. Isn't it better to think about the long term health of the world? The long term health of our student populations and the ones to come after us? Even if we come out fine in the end, is it worth the risk in the first place? Again, I will emphasize that I do not have a problem with drinking in moderation, but I do think that excessive drinking leads people down roads and lifestyles that they otherwise might not have found themselves in.

I was just surfing the web looking for similar blogs on similar subjects, and they do exist. There are actually quite a few of them, but when I check to see what they say, how many followers they have, how many people comment on the subject, and who they are. Here are a couple things that stand out to me.

  • 1) Nobody follows these blogs. There are hardly any page views and even less comments to boot. These people have a passionate topic, but no support. They either don't try hard enough, or don't have a sufficient number of people, especially students, behind them.
  • 2) Most importantly, many of these bloggers and other people who have criticism for our generation and our age group... they're either older people telling us how to do things, or they do not consciously tell people their age, and we have no idea how old they are. They could be disgruntled parents, deans, teachers, professors, kids, quite frankly, they could be anybody. Just look at the list of blogs: http://www.google.com/search?tbm=blg&hl=en&source=hp&biw=1052&bih=709&q=alcohol+college&btnG=Search&gbv=2#q=alcohol+college&hl=en&sa=G&gbv=2&tbm=blg&source=univ&tbs=blgt:b&tbo=u&ei=l2u0Toz-MOTniALx-alk&ved=0CDAQ-Ag&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=44eaab8c14888b01&biw=1052&bih=709 It goes on and on. Fairly anonymous blogger after fairly anonymous blogger.
    • But I have a different approach. I'm 20 years old. I'm going to be a sophomore in college next year, and I'm currently taking a year off. I know what it's like to be in college right now. I know what the social scene is like, and I've participated in it. I've done these things, and I want to see a lot of our generation get behind this movement to end that kind of environment. To really get inspired to stop the binge drinking and the pain that it causes us and our peers, even if they are not aware of it. I'm not some stuffy old guy or current dean or professor who's bashing on students for their parties and habits. I'm one of you. I'm a student who's been to my fair share of parties and seen what college has to offer, and I want to stand up and say, as a current college student, that there is a serious problem, and we, as students, need to do something about it!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Minority

I know that this group of hard partiers isn't the majority of people. I think that there is a large middle ground of students who like to have fun, but not drink so much and randomly hook up. In my opinion I think that give or take it's about 25-40% of the student population that really partakes in that excessive party lifestyle that I don't particularly enjoy. However, just as the percent that participates in this lifestyle differs from school to school, so does the population of the middle ground. Where I'm at school, there are largely two groups: those that go out and get drunk looking to hook up and those who study all the time. I'm absolutely positive that the middle ground exists, but between the difficulty and competition at school and the amount of time consumed by sports, it's very difficult for me to meet people in what little free time I have. And, on top of that, when I don't have work or athletics, I really just want to lie down and watch television in my room, mindlessly play video games, or just catch up on sleep. Everything else seems, well, even more exhausting.

By no means did I mean to infer that the group of "partiers" I spoke of in my last post as a majority. It is undoubtedly a minority, but, let's be realistic, it is a fairly large minority. It's large enough where that mentality of going hard at parties and looking for meaningless sex has fully engulfed the college stereotype in movies and television shows and even in the way that younger people view university nowadays. I don't know the reason behind this universal college aspect; it could be media, more relaxed morals, different generational views on marriage and relationships, or any number of different mediums. Nevertheless, I feel that the most important part about this new trend is not the way it spread, but that it is so pervasive across universities in the United States (I cannot say for sure about foreign schools because I have not been to those other colleges)

Not very far behind comes the second most important part: seemingly no parents, adults, or universities have really done anything about it. I know that everyone knows this newly found college culture exists, but it's as if the entire world has just accepted it as fact. That this is just how it is and there's nothing anybody can do about it, but they'd be wrong. We can still fix the problem. As of now, I don't have a solution, but the point of my argument remains that people are aware of the problem but act as if it doesn't exist. Some places do not even look for a solution or even identify the issue.

Now, one could argue that schools do try to curb the partying and drinking by, for example, making parents' weekend the same as Halloween weekend, or making many exams and midterms the day after well known drinking days (Superbowl, St. Patty's Day, etc), or by giving students many options for extracurricular activities that would take up their time doing productive work rather than partying. But I ask, what about those schools that have deals with local police forces so that student's won't be busted for underage drinking? What about the thousands of adults, parents, alumni, professors, and other football fans who walk through the tailgates and say nothing about a clearly underage girl playing beerpong in practically her underwear? What about those who say nothing about the obvious Freshmen who are chugging beers with their new frat brothers?

Yes, I do agree that it is so pervasive in schools all around the country that it would be very difficult to find a way to curb drinking completely. I do not advocate banning alcohol. I think that would be a misinformed and rash decision for many reasons, including potential riots, protests, unnecessary destruction, etc. But universities should come together with their common problem to attempt to find a solution to the excess, to the binge drinking, to the hazing, and to the mentality that students "need to get trashed  and hammered in order to have a good time." Because that's just not true, alcohol in such excess can only lead to regret and fun can be had in so many different ways.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Work hard, play hard

At the school I go to, the main mentality is work hard and play hard. People work their asses off in class and to relax, they go out to "get fucked up and hook up."
I have no problem with alcohol and parties, but what I don't quite understand is the need to have everything in such excess. Why do people need to get drunk? Why do they want to hook up and have meaningless sex with a classmate they probably don't even know that well? I guess that on some levels it does feel good to just let loose and not care about anything, but why is the focus always on letting go of self control and just partying hard? Can't someone relax and not care about anything without drinking and hooking up? In my opinion, to work hard in class and on the practice field (if you play sports) is tiring enough. But to go out week in and week out, staying up late and drinking would just burn me out.

I've heard that college is supposed to be the time of our lives from many, many people. Is this what my parent's generation was talking about? I can't help but believe that things have changed quite a bit since then. As for how the current college culture came about, I can't yet say. I do know for sure, that it's prevalent across all campuses (with perhaps a couple exceptions), throughout the media, and my generation is completely engulfed by it.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The point

I'm starting this blog not to criticize the types of people and students I may end up talking about, but to just find out some of the opinions of my peers and of college graduates. Everyone has their own views about university, what I share here are mine.

As I am on a gap year and will be a Sophomore next year. Most of what I write about will be concerning my Freshmen year and what I see at colleges near me.