Someone I know had their three year old son, who was acting oddly, evaluated by a psychologist. He was diagnosed with something that translated as a mild kind of autism. The psychologist then said: “don’t worry, he will go to college.”
I found this remark hilarious at first but now see it as a very sad commentary on our college-obsessed society. The same day that I was pondering this, The Chronicle of Higher Education ran the following story:
Nearly a Third of College Students Have Had Mental-Health Counseling, Study Finds
“About a third of college students have sought mental-health counseling, but they are much more likely to say they experience anxiety and stress than they are to report trouble with more-severe problems like violence or substance abuse.
When responding to statements about academic distress, more than 70 percent of students reported a positive attitude about their academic ability, but 21 percent of students agreed that "I am not able to concentrate as well as usual" and 25 percent agreed that "It's hard to stay motivated for my classes."
32 percent of students have attended counseling at some point.
The report also included statistics about suicide: 9 percent of respondents reported that they had seriously considered attempting suicide before college, and 7 percent said they had considered attempting suicide either after coming to college or both before and after coming to college. Five percent of students reported that they had made a suicide attempt.”
In general, as anyone who has been there can attest, college is a stressful experience. It is an experience that doesn't necessarily result in a better job at the end, and one that allows students to major in subjects that in no way lead to a career. The social anxiety at college is palpable. Students are worried about classes and grades, but not so much they actually show up to all their classes or do the work expected of them. They are worried about their social relationships, but it is rare for them to actually be taught about such things in college.
But yet, going to college is seen as the ultimate issue. As long as the kid can go to college, he will be fine. How sad that we actually believe this.