University Life in the 21st Century

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Over at Unqualified Offerings, Thoreau has a short essay about the relative advantages enjoyed by college students whose parents also went to college. I don’t have any special comment on his main point, but I was sort of fascinated by this:

To the extent that I’ve interacted with parents, I’m always fascinated by the contrast between the questions that they ask and my own inside perceptions of the system. My students’ parents went to school before computers were commonplace. Their parents attended college back when faculty could give out 1-page syllabi instead of long documents with disclaimers and policy reminders. Hell, even when I went to college, professors just said “Write an essay on this”, not “Here is a detailed grading rubric for the essay, which you will no doubt try to rules-lawyer me on, hence I had the rubric inspected by experts.”

I don’t have kids, but he’s basically talking about my generation. My professors did indeed hand out 1-page sylliabi and tell us to write essays of a certain length without much more guidance than that. But, um, I gather this is no longer true? Would any university professor types care to comment on this? I didn’t realize that this particular aspect of college life had changed so much.


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