Cheech Marin (L.) and Tommy Chong (R.), pictured above in a still from their 1979 film Up in Smoke.
It takes all kinds as the saying goes, and I'm certainly not judging anyone, but the following true story happened at the end of one of my classes today. My teaching colleagues around the world, in particular, will appreciate it.
This afternoon, I had a student turn in, with no warning whatsoever, his Position Paper. . . three weeks late. I pointed out that it was due on October 3rd, and was now so late that there simply was no way he would receive any credit for it. I reminded him that the paper due today was his Topic Proposal (which students were to write based on their responses to 25+ very specific questions about their ongoing research projects).
"Oh," he replied with a troubled gaze, "Then just use my position paper for my topic proposal." Sigh. Two very different papers based on two entirely different prompts. By the way, this is a 300-level course, so all upper division students.
And his research topic you ask? Why marijuana should be legalized for recreational use in the United States.
A detail I neglected to include in the story from yesterday. . . Initially, the student claimed that he turned in SOMETHING on October 3rd, which I had to assure him several times he did not. There were then several awkward moments of silence as he processed that information before informing me to simply accept the late piece of work as the topic proposal due yesterday. You could almost see the gears cranking in slow motion behind his bleary eyes. If I wasn't so tired of (and bored by) nonsense like this from young "adults," it would have been funnier.
What in the world ARE young people doing in college anyway? I'll answer my own question -- Too many seem to be in a holding pattern based on parental/societal expectations here in the United States, stuck between childhood and some bizarre version of adulthood.
Maybe the answer is this. Maybe trade school instead of college might be a more realistic option for more young people? Or perhaps, oh, I don't know, going to work for 40+ hours a week for several years right after high school graduation might be also be a good idea. The routine forces one to grow up quickly, sorts out priorities, and makes one focus remarkably well on more realistic goals and expectations instead of some vague pie-in-the-sky vision of what life with a bachelor's degree might be like.
So, maybe starting college at 24, or 25 is a better way of doing things than the currently accepted way of doing things right after high school is finished? Delaying college for several years while a young person sorts all of this out for him or herself might also weed out a few who are definitely not college material if we are brutally honest with ourselves as a society. Just a few thoughts.