What in the world is college? I mean, during class hours is one thing. But after classes are over and the professors have gone home, college is the craziest concept ever! Who in their right mind would permit a bunch of 18-22-year-olds (approximately) to be alone in one place overnight? Who would actually expect them to live up to certain standards? Who would seriously think that a single building would be standing after a week? It just doesn’t make sense! We’re crazy, emotional, busy, stressed young adults! The only authority on campus once the professors, administrators, and dining hall staff leave is the RA team. The RAs are students themselves! And then there’s the RDs. Sure, they’re a little bit older, and their jobs depend on maintaining some semblance of reasonable society on campus, but there are only two of them. And, as an unnamed senior from Missouri just pointed out, the whole RA team is off campus right now.
Yet, it appears that the dorm has not fallen in around me. No one is running around screaming in terror. And life goes on as normal here at school. We’re all busy finishing up papers (or blog posts!), studying for finals, and spending a little time with friends. I’m still in shock! Why in the world would life just continue as normal? Or are we more mature than the world gives us credit for?
I’m not saying we’re all grown up, that we know everything, or that we always make the right choices. What I am saying is that when a group of young adults commits to a set of standards and determines to hold one another to those standards, we can act responsibly. We can be honorable. We are young, but we are adults. We do mess up, we aren’t perfect, but we are trustworthy.
In some ways, society forgets this. People often assume that teenagers and young adults are going to be disrespectful, mouth off, and ignore authority. For some young adults, this is aggravating. We want to be better, but we’re fighting a stereotype while trying to grow up, and it’s hard. I don’t think this is an excuse, though it might be an explanation.
On the other hand, I believe that college is a decent counterexample to this low-expectations theory. Although society expects college kids to be wild, people continue to let their children go to college. Schools encourage students to grow up, go to college, get a degree, and find a good job. As a society, we want our children to go to college. We want to throw our young people into a world of other young people. Why would we do that unless we had some faith in young people? We expect young people to survive college, mistakes and all. No one thinks college kids are going to be perfect, but we do believe that the majority of young adults will grow up into imperfect but mature members of society.
So… to all you doubters, to all you who say, “Why would we want our young people concentrated on countless campuses across the nation?” I have no answer, save this: While society does doubt her young people, she does not mistrust them. Society does believe that students can grow up and become men and women who are worthy of respect.
To all you college students like me: Let’s be those men and women who are trustworthy and respectable. Let’s not burn the campus down or abuse the freedom we have been given. Let’s be who society wants us to be–in the long run–men and women who make our world a better place. To God be the glory.
Dios te bendiga.