I try really hard to resist induction into the-older-I-get-the-better-I-was club. But on a recent morning bike ride through the UCO campus (yes, Bill and I were the old fa...olks, swerving to avoid students and cars), I came alarmingly close to qualifying for membership.
I’d braced myself for the latest campus fashion trend—Daisy Dukes paired with black pantyhose and Doc Martens. According to friend and author Sonia Gensler, this is a hot new look at Oxford. But I spotted no such outfit on the UCO coeds. Either wriggling into pantyhose takes too much time and effort before an early morning class, or this uber style has not yet made it across the pond. Give it a couple of years.
While I was prepared for what I thought students would be wearing, I wasn’t prepared for what they were carrying. Or, rather, weren’t carrying. Riding through the campus, I noticed the same thing over and over: students hurrying to class, carrying nothing more cumbersome than a purse or a wallet or a can of Red Bull. No books, no laptops, not even an iPad that I could see. I counted exactly three scholars whom I considered properly prepared for class: an Asian girl toting a book bag, a woman who appeared to be in her mid-thirties pulling a wheelie (pretty sure she wasn’t a professor), and—bless his heart—one rather nerdy-looking young man gripping a briefcase.
When we returned home and were pouring milk over our Raisin Bran, I asked Bill, “Did you notice anything strange about those students this morning?”
Being a card-carrying member of the aforementioned club, he gave the exact response I was expecting: “Everything about them is strange.”
Rather than risk an I-don’t-know-what-this-world-is-coming-to lecture, I dropped the subject. But my mind was still churning, and here’s what I determined. A lot has changed on college campuses since the days I roamed them. Where my generation lugged twenty-pound tomes and bulging notebooks to class, today’s students have downloaded all their information on computers. Having read all assignments prior to class and having stored that vital information in their brains, they head to class burden-free, ready for stimulating and thought-provoking dialogue with their professors. OR tucked into their purses or pockets are teeny, tiny computers on which to take notes for further review. OR the class is being pod-cast and they can catch it again in the evening.
Please assure me that these scenarios are feasible. I try not to dwell on the negative, but occasionally I worry about the future of our youth. And about the future of my Social Security check.