The Evolution Of College
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Student Life

The Evolution Of College

From hand-written letters to landlines, Mom's golden years definitely differed from mine.

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The Evolution Of College

I'm sure you've all suffered through the tiresome and repetitive conversation with your parents that begins with, "When I was your age...". I empathize with your pain of having parents who love to compare and contrast, but mostly contrast, your lives with theirs. As different as we can all assume our college experiences are in comparison to our parents', I finally became curious as to just how different they really are (much to my mom's satisfaction). I let my mom relive her college years as she babbled in excitement in response to all my questions and comments. Here's a little of what she revealed to me, though she hinted that she still had many secrets tucked away, which makes me think her youth wasn't as lame as I presumed…

Something we can all agree on is that technology has upgraded our adolescence. Having been dependent on electronics for most of my life, it was difficult for me to imagine my mom's life without phones or computers. Her college days definitely varied from mine in this realm, literally from day one. In order to even just apply to college, my mom had to contact universities, either by phone or mail, to request to have the application sent to her. Then, she would put each application in a typewriter and type her information and essay for each university. "It was nerve-racking if you weren't a great typist --you'd have to use a lot of white-outs." This comment was especially foreign to me because typing is such second nature for kids in our generation.

Roommates are a key aspect to any college experience, and Fordham, like most colleges and universities today, does the best it can to pair you with a person who lives as similar to your living style as possible. For my mom, however, her roommate was assigned completely randomly by Dickinson College. "You would write letters back and forth to your roommate--maybe you'd get lucky and they would send a picture of themselves in the letter. We weren't able to stalk our roommates on social media to see what they looked like or what kind of friends they hung out with." Again, another foreign concept. I couldn't imagine, as I'm sure you can't either, not being able to look up the people you meet online in order to determine your liking of them. (Although, I wish our generation wouldn't be so quick to judge a person's character based on their Instagram photos, but that's beside the point).

Communicating with friends and family from home was also completely different for my mom. She remembers signing up to have a phone in your dorm at Dickinson; she and her roommate each had separate codes to access their voicemails on the landline. "Some of the most exciting times were coming home at night and seeing your voicemail light glowing and knowing you had messages; sometimes they'd be from your friends, your boyfriend, or your mom and dad." I can't even remember the last time I left a voicemail, let alone listened to one!

Overall, it was eye-opening listening to my mom reflect on her times as a college student; for the most part, our experiences mirror each other more than you'd think. It was odd, but also intriguing, to attempt to envision my mom as a "cool" college student. It made me wonder how different my experience is going to be from my own children's. I have no doubt that the next generations will be left struggling to wrap their brains around concepts that seem so common to us; I'm eager to see how these technological and social evolutions will play out.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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