College life ain’t what it used to be

Gary Silverman:

But I’m revisiting my youthful folly in this forum in the interest of the historical record. Looking back on it, my romantic notions about love and higher education were rooted in a world that is no more – the pre-internet, postwar suburb (mine being located on Long Island, outside New York City).

When I mailed in my university applications a few hours before the start of the American bicentennial year of 1976 – using white liquid paper to correct my typing mistakes on forms of different colours – I was many years away from owning my first cell phone, tablet or personal computer. There was no such thing as Facebook or Twitter, either.

As a result, just about the only other college applicants I knew lived in the same place I did. I’m talking about a corner of the East Meadow public school district that fed the smaller of the two high schools in that jurisdiction – W Tresper Clarke (which was named after a former president of the East Meadow board of education, then and now the only man in my experience who wanted to be called Tresper).

I was provincial in a way that would be nearly impossible today – even in many of the more remote corners of the planet. But the curious thing is that my lack of contact with young people anywhere else bred a near certainty that they would be more interesting than the ones with whom I was raised.