The Busyness of College Life

It seems like overkill. If you’ve been watching TV, you’ve now seen the same clips of the same lacrosse team at the same practice session so many times. No new clips exist because the team no longer plays. And for Collin and Reade, playtime is over on every front. We feel for them and we feel for their accuser. As we wait for justice to run its course, we continue to peep into the window of college life.

My memories of college are happy ones. I remember the surreal feeling of reckless freedom and artificial busyness that permeated every waking hour. So little to do and so much time to do it! Just like in real-life busyness, the conflicting demands on one’s time in the apparent busyness of today’s college life is difficult to bear. Three hours of class in a single day can only be explained by bad scheduling. “I feel so busy.”

The difference between the real and apparent busyness, however, is that the former has a way of maturing us, while the later only deforms. I’ve worked on many college campuses and I’ve seen it up close. American college life is a sub-culture where personal responsibility – a mature response to real busyness – is put on hold.

If “apparent busyness” existed when I started college 15 years ago, today it has mushroomed out of control. The average college student doesn’t need to cook, clean, wash, or work. The reason? Money is not an issue. Credit cards and college loans serve as escalating pay scales that fluctuate according only to whim. If Mom and Dad can help, great! If they can’t, my bank will.

This environment of apparent busyness, postponed responsibility, and stunted maturity is the subculture in which the Duke lacrosse team spent $800 to hire a stripper.

Many parents have asked me what they can do. These kids at Duke are success stories. Great kids. Great talent. But something wasn’t right.

One way to help your kids navigate maturely in an immature subculture is to teach them the value of time, hard work, and money. Don’t let them live in apparent busyness.

Tomorrow, Friday, I’ll post some of the hundreds of responses I’ve received from all of you about this issue. You’re going to love reading what others are saying.

Until then, God bless, Father Jonathan

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