Saturday, March 3, 2012

Student Life Then and Now

Despite less time, the current generation has more possibilities and choices

By Danijela Demarin

Each student can easily name some advantages as well as disadvantages of the life he or she is currently leading. Although it almost always depends on the country and university style, there are some common habits that differentiate us from our parents’ generation.

Although studying sometimes falls in the second plan of a young person’s mind, especially compared to all other (and more enjoyable) aspects of student life, it is still an important factor that makes us all proud to have an excuse for not having money or anything in the fridge. Studying itself is nowadays greatly different from what it used to be. For a start, almost 50% more people enroll in universities, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Unfortunately, this also means that the percentage of people graduating is higher. I say “unfortunately” because it means that almost anyone can earn a diploma. Of course, this statement varies depending on the type of university.

When it comes to classes in general, technology plays a significant role in changing the style and allocation of students’ attention. Teachers are now able to use technology to teach better, but students can also use technology, which often distracts them from being focused during class. In our parents’ time, they were obliged to follow classes closely, not only because they did not have computers to entertain them during a boring class, but because they rarely had books, so they were obliged to take notes. Now, on the other hand, Facebook and 9gag play a more important role on students’ computers than writing notes or following what is being said in class.

Students in the dormitory - Generation '85
Nevertheless, it is also worth mentioning that attitudes towards studying were largely different a generation ago, especially in regard to respect towards teachers. Our parents’ generation looked at the teacher as their serious educator, someone to look up to. Due to the amount of fear they felt, students rarely asked questions or had private consultations. Nowadays, we talk to our teachers, we ask questions, no matter how insignificant they might be, and at the end of the day we go to a pub together and get to know the more relaxed version of our educators. We might not respect them enough for what they do, but we do look up to them, in a certain way.

Student life today focuses on more or less similar activities as the previous generation, but the amount of attention paid to various activities is different. When it comes to sports, there might be many more tournaments than there were in the past, but there are less people interested. Due to busy schedules and all-day classes, it is hard to find a time that is convenient for many students. A generation ago, class times were mostly shorter, which left enough time for extracurricular activities.

The same goes for clubs and other student organizations. While our parents actively protested for important political changes, the current generation is less occupied with politics and less active when it comes to protests.

The sweetest part of student life is certainly meeting other students and enjoying the night life. Logically, it depends on the location and national heterogeneity of the community, but what night life usually involves now is clubbing and massive consumption of alcohol. Well, since the ’80s were a time greatly marked by music, the previous generation enjoyed more dance-based parties and less alcohol-based. Disco clubs at that time often had bands and various performers coming at any time of the week. But an important difference was that it started early in the evening and finished before midnight, which is now hard to imagine.

Every period of time carries its ways of dealing with problems as well as enjoying all that life can offer. Although the ’80s were a time of good music, great social exposure and a Facebookless era where people still relied on personal contact, the present time carries an incredible amount of possibilities, and that is exactly what makes it special. Previous generations might have wanted what we have now – being able to contact anyone anytime – but we are the ones who can choose our lifestyle and take from student life what we like, as well as leave dislikes aside.

That is why we may be nostalgic for the ’80s, the socialization of that time and more interesting night life. But we should surely be comfortable in our current era and also grateful for being given the variety of choices. 

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