College. It’s interesting for a myriad of reasons, but I seem to always be finding new ones. As the sole person in my ring of friends to not be living at school, I lose out on the ability to party and forget about responsibilities for nights at a time, so I generally see a semester as four months of stress rather than just the last two weeks. That said though, I’ve seen something quirky popping up and it doesn’t seem to be limited to just NYU-Poly.
The tradition seems to have long been that you can party your life away and suddenly wake up for the finals and things will magically work out. I, and likely millions of other students, must be living on the moon then. The reality, as it turns out, is that finals are being brought further into the semester every year it seems. Out of my 6 classes this semester, one has an assignment due during the normal finals week and the other has a test on its scheduled day. Other than those exceptions, the rule seems to be that come December 9th (the last day of classes), the semester is over.
On the outside this seems good, vacation starts earlier and stress is done earlier.. what’s not to love? The problem, however, is that finals are now mashed into regular class time. My rationale for typing this is that I’m currently procrastinating doing an assignment for a class where the final is due before the last homework (OK, it’s only due 24 hours before the other, but you get the point). From a purely linear perspective, why take a final before you’ve actually learned all of the material, or in the case of homework, affirmed your knowledge of the material. The answer is of course, that the finals are now less about content and more about the ability to write a paper or give a presentation.
While I don’t agree with taking the focus off of content, I can’t blame anyone for being concerned with the direction in which this country’s communication skills are headed. In the time since Al Gore invented the internet, it has slowly been perverted from a collection of knowledge to a bad billboard showing off exactly what morons are capable of when given the right tools (Evan Goer has an absolutely brilliant article on where some of this lunacy has come from).
What we’re left with as a society is [mostly] young people capable only of expressing thoughts as either grammatically incorrect stubs or degrading personal attacks (or both). Of course, this is a well documented phenomenon, so I won’t go into too much depth on it. For all I care, the internet can go in whatever direction the idiot population allows it to, so long as I’m allowed a place to continue my own conversations devoid of the absurdity).
On the other hand, what I will not accept is a higher education system that is teaching adult infants to write and communicate. Our thirty and forty thousand dollar educations are being slowly degraded into extensions of high school rather than what we (and the world we’re supposed to inherit) deserve.
Folks complain about Bush and Obama, but how does it feel that this will one day be able to run for president or prime minister (Disclaimer: I choose Fred because deep down, I actually do find him enjoyable to watch and don’t mind his antics now and then).
What is the solution then, if the general population is sinking to such a level that Idiocracy rings truer and truer every day? I say, let it be. Don’t change the educational system, and don’t punish those there for a reason. People will either wake up and join society or we will slowly turn into a coma state, but don’t hamper my capacity to learn by pushing me through middle aged writing exercises in the name of real world skills. Grade school is for learning to be a person, university is supposed to teach you how to accomplish a task. Get with the program or stay home.