25 September 2011

What problem?

I've written before about the joys of teaching at a large regional university. And now I'm going to say it again: there are plenty of schools that don't have a drinking problem.

Most of my students work 30-40 hours a week. They live off-campus, with their partners, with their children, with their parents. A significant number are not just in-town though off-campus, but commuters from a good way away, just as I am. On weekends they're at work, or doing their homework, or cutting the grass and ferrying kids around, not at football games, not at frat parties. We do have fraternities and sororities, and I can believe there's some alcohol abuse on Frat Row. But I'm not seeing it: those students are majoring in something other than English.

My students have trouble, academically, for varying reasons: they went to bad high schools. It's been too long since they were in the classroom. Their baby had an ear infection and they haven't slept in days. Somebody else didn't show up for work and they had to work an extra shift. Although they're not working extra, they are working, and they only had 3 hours to work on a paper that needed 6. Their chronic illness isn't under control and they spent the night in the ER. Their National Guard unit was unexpectedly called up. Their anti-depression meds aren't quite right. And, sure, there is some ordinary not-getting-it-together, some bad study habits and time management skills, some garden-variety colds and break-ups, as well.

If a person goes straight from a pressure-cooker high school, overseen by helicopter parents, to an expensive college where paying tuition seems to guarantee a prestigious degree, and where students suddenly have a whole lot more freedom and independence than they're used to, then I can see why schools like Tenured Radical's might have this problem.

But it's not a big problem at LRU, and I wish people would stop tarring all "colleges" with the same brush. They vary by region, by mission, by student body and by culture, as well as by size and rankings.

2 comments:

profacero said...

Most of our students are like yours but my school when I arrived was said to be the hardest drinking school in the nation, with the most alcohol related deaths. (In 2008 the hardest drinking cities in the nation were Austin, Milwaukee, SF, Providence, and Chicago, and I am thinking hmmm, cool places, maybe that is why.)

At my SLAC, the college actually supplied the booze. Students only had $4 per week in pocket money if they were on financial aid, it seemed, so they'd go to these parties and get smashed and get laid. They said it was not fun.

It was the school my parents had wanted me to go to as an undergraduate because it was so prestigious, I wasn't grown up enough to be at a large urban school they said, and at a nice SLAC I'd have better chances at a good marriage, etc.

I am so glad I refused because it was an even worse place than I had diagnosed it to be when I was in high school, although in real dollars I made much more there, then, than I do here, now.

Contingent Cassandra said...

My experience at a mostly-regional R2 is similar; most students (even the ones who live on campus) work long hours for pay, and don't seem to have a lot of time for fraternities, sororities, and drinking. The few who do tend to be relatively privileged underachievers determined to have a "real college" experience, and convinced that fraternities and sororities are the key to that (they also want a football team, which we don't have at the moment). Despite my lack of enthusiasm for "Greek" organizations, I do wish that we had a fraternity row near campus; the few fraternity/sorority houses we have are dotted throughout surrounding suburban neighborhoods, some of them several miles away from campus, and the system of rides to and from parties is dangerous in several ways (drunk driving, difficulty in leaving charged situations of various sort, etc., etc.)