What Would College Life Be Better Off Without? Part 1: Essays, Unpaid Internships & Nice Guys Finishing Last

What would college life be better off without?  In separate articles and op-eds appearing in campus newspapers throughout this past semester, students offered a bevy of suggestions on “unnecessary traditions, ideas and institutions” that should be scrapped or significantly changed.

Taken together, they represent a massive de-cluttering worthy of a similar feature published in The Washington Post.  The Post’s annual “Spring Cleaning” asks a select group of thinkers to nominate “an idea, a tradition, a habit, a technology . . . that we’d all be better off tossing out” from society at-large.

In its four-year run, writers have proposed that everything from engagement rings, exit polls, and premium gas to chick flicks, small talk, and the vice presidency be given the boot.

In the spirit of those real-world recommendations, consider the list below a collegiate spring cleaning of sorts.  Here is a sampling of the academic, social, residential, and fashion trends and traditions that student columnists contend should be trashed or upended.

1. Essay Writing

“Why on earth are we still writing essays?  Once we graduate, will we ever find ourselves in the situation where our supervisor/manager/mom asks us a difficult question and gives us three months to prepare an answer, write it down, with a word limit, one inch margins and font size 12? I don’t think so. And once the paper is written, the euphoria of having it done makes us think that the whole world will read it, but it’s not, it is read by an audience of one (our lecturer, who knows far more than we attempt to know already), and it’s then lost in the cyberspace of Turnitin. . . . I think that the style of essay writing is nonsense; it achieves nothing but confusion, and the over-use of the synonyms function.”

Richard Holland, The Leeds Student, University of Leeds

2. Unpaid Internships Without College Support

“For me and many of my peers, taking an unpaid internship can be a difficult decision with the cost of an education weighing heavily on all our shoulders. The issue of unpaid internships is a contentious topic across the country as legions of desperate students descend upon relatively few positions in the hopes of finding an inroad into their future career. . . . Unpaid internships give an implicit advantage to wealthier students who can afford to go spend a summer doing unpaid work and not worry about tuition bills or living expenses. . . . To overcome the naturally occurring bias that unpaid internships have towards the wealthy, it is important for colleges to provide support for students who desire to take such positions but are held back by financial considerations. . . . Only then will unpaid internships become a viable option for today’s disadvantaged students who currently don’t have the resources to take every opportunity available to them.”

Dillon Cory, The Chicago Maroon, University of Chicago

3. Giant-T-Shirt-Non-Pants Fashion Trend

“An epidemic has swept our campus and taken over our ladies. I am talking of course about the Giant-T-Shirt-Non-Pants (GTSNP) virus.  Symptoms of the virus include females wearing giant T-shirts and a form of non-pants and usually include severe cerebral malfunctioning, or stupidity.  The virus seems to be spreading mostly over sorority girls but has been known to transfer to those closest to them. . . . First you will notice the T-shirt.  It will be larger than the female wearing it by at least three sizes and will normally be a bright color, sometimes with anywhere from one to many logos for local businesses, fraternity formals and bars printed on them.  Next, you will notice the lack of pants. Anyone can wear a T-shirt and jeans but the virus calls for a lack of pants. Please be warned: Leggings and athletic shorts are not pants. . . . Other things you may notice are Rainbow brand flip-flops or a Polo Ralph Lauren ball cap. Essentially, the infected will display signs of preparing to go to the gym, without ever going to the gym.”

Courtney Escher, The George-Anne, Georgia Southern University

4. Punishments for Unexcused Absences

“Syllabi . . . tell us that our absences will not be excused without a note from a doctor. Unless you visit the emergency room, no student is going to have regular, unscheduled access to their family physician.  Even if we do produce a doctor’s note, we are still given a limited amount of ‘sick days.’  If we exceed the given number of days, our grades are penalized. Some professors even require students to be in school for tests, regardless of excuse, because no make-up test will be offered. My opinion is that the practice of penalizing students for being sick is wrong. I realize there are those out there who skip school or feign illness to get out of class work. I offer that these people should not remove the benefit of the doubt from the rest of us. . . . The people who skip class are going to do it regardless of the penalties. All the penalties do is scare sick kids into going to school and making the situation worse. . . . By coming in, we spread our sicknesses, prolong our misery and produce inferior work all in order to avoid absence penalties.”

– Mark McMillan, The Oakland Post, Oakland University

5. Nice Guys Finishing Last

“So why is it that the majority of the time the careless jerk, we’ll refer to him as Chad McSexy, gets the girl over us, sweet and caring guys? . . . [L]adies, cut the nice guys some slack. We’re truly sorry we reference so many dorky things, play a lot of video games, and don’t have Ryan Reynolds’ abs. But this doesn’t mean we should be cast out and left bitter and alone because of it. Give us a chance to become the men you never thought we could be. Who knows? We may surprise you.”

Chris McLaughlin, The Criterion, Colorado Mesa University

To Be Continued…

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  1. […] In the spirit of those real-world recommendations, consider the list below a collegiate spring cleaning of sorts.  It is Part 2 of a sampling of academic, social, residential, and fashion trends and traditions that student columnists contend should be trashed or upended.  (Read Part 1) […]