Thursday, September 11, 2008

Compare and Contrast

It's "New Student Week" here at the small academically elite college where I work. The freshman only are on campus, hosted by trained upperclassmen, with a full schedule of introductions, tours, small discussion groups, and parent activities.

This is such a stark contrast to the Big Ten experience I had at the University of Iowa. Let's chart them, shall we? This in no way is meant to criticize small liberal arts colleges - perhaps I'm just jealous? But it really struck me what a different atmosphere I encountered. We'll call my employer PC for "Private College".

At PC, you can back the family van right up to the dormitory door.
At Iowa, your parents dropped you off in the parking lot nearest your dorm. That was as close as you could get.

At PC, there are perky upperclassmen in matching t-shirts waiting at your dorm's door to greet you, sign you in, and walk you to your room. All under a colorful banner decorated by balloons.
At Iowa, there were cranky old women named Doris handing out room keys and she was usually housed in a dank office in the basement of your massive building.

At PC, you followed a wonderfully scripted schedule of activities to make you feel welcome.
At Iowa, the first thing scheduled was to learn your new roommate owned a bong the size of New Jersey.

At PC, there was a refreshment tent, a live band, and a free popcorn wagon.
At Iowa, new students are offered refreshments - they are two flights of stairs down, next to the laundry room in vending machines. And you'd better have correct change.

At PC, there was another group of upperclassmen in matching t-shirts wildly cheering each and every person, bike, and car that entered campus, all day.
At Iowa, the only thing around to "greet" you was the pushy Dad from Chicago who thought he and his kid owned the elevator and kept it locked on "open" while they unloaded Jr's crap.

At PC, the dining hall offers a daily variety of pizza bar, pasta bar, sandwich bar, salad bar, vegan bar, main dish bar, etc. Yesterday's main dish was Chicken Penne in Tarragon Cream.
At Iowa, you had two choices: take it or leave it. And the "salad bar" was iceberg lettuce, canned olives, and government cheese.

At PC, the home football game is attended by a handful of students who bring their books to study during time outs.
At Iowa, home football games were bigger than the RNC and with much less tear gas, but almost as many prostitutes and beer cans.

At PC, you can walk from one end of campus to the other in less than 5 minutes.
At Iowa, the occasional student would send up a flare so the search parties could find him.

At PC, there are funny little pranks and traditions that all students are in on, and all alumni remember.
At Iowa, pranks and traditions usually involve the FBI, local police, and the ATF

At PC, all the Seniors are the same age.
At Iowa, some seniors are creepy 47 year old guys who still wear backpacks and hang out too long in the Student Union arguing philosophy and government oppression.



Anne L. said...

Great compare and contrast MnMom. Just for the record, I know you keep track of a lot of things on the right hand column of your blog but I do truly miss the gratitude list....

tshsmom said...

I LOVE your comparisons!
My freshman experience was at a jr. college, so it was very similar to the PC experience.

Border Explorer said...

Purrrrrfect post!

Don't know about your PC, but many PC's baby their students academically, too. At Iowa, you better get with it or BOOM, you're outta there.

Anonymous said...

One more benefit, at PC, no one will saw a horse in half in your office.

FranIAm said...

Thatis great!!!

Sheleta said...

girl why did you just make me pee on myself? i should have known to put on one of my 2 year old son's overnight pampers before reading your blog!!! those "PC"s are so nice! i was at one for a 1/2 of a semester, until the tuition bill came in and they realized i ain't have a dime to my name. then it was back to university of houston where i was just inmate, i mean sutdent number 465875770. yeah, i put my social security number up. it would only benefit me if someone stole my identity. cause i'm still paying off that $60,000 loan for 1/2 the semester i spent at houston baptist university

Shan said...

Yeah, I think you get all those perks when you pay forty thousand dollars a year in tuition. I say that with love, because I actually attended a lovely little PC (after transferring from a state school).

I loved college in the end, but I gotta say, that first time of going off to a college dorm away from home? Soooooo nerve-wracking. I had debilitating stomachaches and insomnia for a week. I don't even like to see reminders of new students going off to college! I get all teary and nervous for them! Then I want to grab them and reassure them that it's going to be great, they're going to love college, their odd-seeming roommate will be fine, and even if he/she isn't, they'll make other friends.

Uh, am I still talking?

Anne L. said...

Thanks for the gratitudes! What I'm grateful for:
witty cousins
people that would rather fight than quit
strong-minded northeastern Iowa women
Highway 9, Iowa
rainy days
sunny days
my 90 year old father
strong-minded coffee!:)

Cheesecake Maven said...

Yep, anyone can graduate after being coddled at a PC for four years. It takes true grit to attend a large state school, it's sink or swim honey. GO HAWKS!

(Although, it would have been very nice indeed to be telephoned by someone saying they missed me at lecture that morning, and asking if I'm okay or in need of anything. Had I attended a PC and gotten one of those calls, I'd have asked for someone to deliver strong coffee for me each morning with real cream, that would help me get to class on time, and they actually would have done it! Yep, PCs have their advantages, too!)

Border Explorer said...

Hey, I’ve got something for you to pick up over at my place, if you’d like.

Anonymous said...

Love this! I got a great laugh out of it. I went to a Big Ten school, as well. Indiana University.

You've nailed the experience - with humor!

Missy said...

Heh, heh--you've got you're stereotypes down.