Two great articles in today’s Sunday New York Times on the state of college kids these days. One is a front page article on the effort of the likes of Princeton, Harvard, and Williams to address class inequality in their admissions. The opening paragraph strikes at the reality of these college environments:
"The discussion in the States of Poverty seminar at Amherst College was getting a litle theoretical. Then Anthony Abraham Jack, a junior from Miami, asked pointedly, "Has anyone here ever actually seen a food stamp?"
It’s a great success story, and indicates a heartening institutional willingness to be engines of social progress. You can read it here.
The other is in Thomas Friedman’s column, "The Quiet Americans," on the optimism in the current crop of college graduates. I can personally attest to the accuracy of his observations. This is a great generation coming through college just now. You have to be a subscriber to access this column online, (but this link is good through midday Monday) so I’ll liberally quote some elections here.
[From departing GWU president Stephen J. Trachtenberg] " ‘I’ve been a college president for 30 years, and these kids are more optimistic about the future than any I have ever seen—perhaps more than they have any reason to be,’ he said. ‘They still believe that the world is their oyster and go ahead with abandon. Notwithstanding everything, they remain optimistic.’"
"...It was not only the pride with which they wore those uniforms that was palpable, but also the respect they were accorded by their classmates. I spoke to one young man who was going from graduation at Rensselaer right out to sea with the United States Navy. As bad as Iraq is, they just keep signing up. I have been equally impressed by the number of my daughter’s friends who have opted to join Teach For America.
"And that can-do-will-do spirit is a good thing, because we will need it to preserve our democracy from those who want to steal the openness and optimism that make democracy work."