Sometimes, very briefly, I forget that life (“real life”) outside of college will be much more volatile than the buffered life inside of college. I imagine myself completing my bachelor’s degree and going on to get a Master’s degree and possibly a PhD, and during these upcoming years of further schooling, I do not think that I will be exposed to the real world. During these years, I will continue to be a student, shielded by this identification that, for some reason, is often synonymous with not yet being established in life – An identification that seems to equate to a lack of experience in the world outside of a university or college. This is probably the case because it is true: traditional college students earning their bachelor’s degrees are typically very ignorant to the responsibilities and realities that lay just beyond the university dining hall. They (myself included) have not had the opportunity to experience real life yet, as they have spent most of their time within the relatively controlled environments of their college campuses. This is not effective, and in fact, this lack of exposure to the “adult world” may lead students to trouble in their transitions to employment.
Even as students develop independence as college freshmen, their gradual adaptations are tailored to their environments, which are the universities that they attend. Those who live on campus (particularly freshmen) could theoretically exist solely within campus limits, and some do. Food is provided and readily available (24-hour restaurants operate on OU’s campus), laundry can be done in the freshmen dorms, there are plenty of activities and clubs to participate in, and study areas are plentiful. A student’s entire life can be lived without ever leaving campus limits, and this has likely groomed at least some students to have warped perceptions of independence and self-sustenance.
During my first semester at OU, a typical day consisted of going to class, stuffing myself at OU’s Couch Cafeteria (home to a ridiculously wide array of unlimited food), doing a little laundry and homework, attending a club meeting, and passing out on my creaky, too-small dorm bed. I was unhealthy, inactive, and unaware that my world was very limited and that my life on OU’s campus was comparable to a rodent in its cage: restricted, controlled, and largely sheltered from the happenings of the outside world. Now, while I was not actually trapped, my point is that many students are experiencing an abridged version of real life on college campuses, and many of them probably know this and embrace it. It’s college. It’s not supposed to be like real life; in fact, it better not be. I want a few years of Level MEDIUM before beginning Level HARD. This is understandable, but surely there are ways to create a Level MEDIUM-HARD, so that students can be better prepared for life after graduation. At the moment, I am not sure how to accomplish this, and maybe it is impossible. College is not meant to simulate real life, but to prepare us for it.