I got an email from Amazon today. It listed all the things that I needed if I was planning on going off to college.
It looks like to me you either need to have well-heeled parents or to already be in a good job to afford Amazon's wish list for college.
Going to college in the sixties and seventies was very different than it is today. Most of the stuff you need to go to college now was not even invented when we went, but somehow we managed to get through it.
I think my wife, Glenda, said it best when she suggested that college used to be a time when you learned to live without the comforts of home. Today you end up taking all those comforts and more with you to college. I have heard colleges dining halls are now cornucopias of restaurant food instead hiding places for mystery meat.
I'm sure college still can be whatever you might make of it which is a little like the beach by the Atlantic Ocean in the picture. Some people plug into their iPods and miss the essence of the beach. I suspect a few today are so busy playing games and partying that they also might miss what college is all about. That is not to say we did not have a few parties in our day.
I thought I went off to college very well equipped. Beyond the clothes that my mother insisted that I take, I had my electric typewriter and old stereo that I had used through my years at McCallie, a boarding school where I attended high school.
I drove to college by myself, but I think that was a luxury compared to one of my roommates. His parents double parked on Massachusetts Avenue while he got his bookbag and a big laundry bag of clothes. I was never certain whether they pushed him out the door or he jumped, but you get the idea.
The first semester that I was in college, I did not go home Thanksgiving. I enjoyed a wonderful meal at the home of another student from the area. We did manage to furnish our room with a few important things including a big old fridge for beer. Getting the beer for the fridge was more of a challenge since you were supposed to be tweny-one to purchase alcohol.
I learned a lot freshman year, but mostly I remember how hard some of the courses were and the amazing amount of reading that was required. I do not remember televisions being a part of our lives. Certainly none of my roommates had one and I doubt there would have been time to watch one.
We did however subscribe to the Boston Globe and the Harvard Crimson. Reading the papers especially on Sunday was a real treat. We often got a NY Times Sunday paper just to kill a few more trees.
When we sent our own children off to college, they took a pretty good load of stuff but I don't think it was quite as bad as it is today.
I think that I am glad that there was no Internet to distract us and that smartphones had yet to be invented. We did get landlines and I still remember calling home every weekend.
Certainly that is a behavior that has gone the way of the dodo bird. I guess we will have to wait and see how this generation of college educated children turn out.