First Person: 'Hip' Mom Taken Aback at College Life Today

Yahoo Contributor Network

Yahoo News, as part of its "Born Digital" series, asked students and parents to write about how college has changed over a generation. Here's one perspective.

FIRST PERSON | I remember the feeling of excitement when it was time to select a college for my daughter, Krissy.

My first thought was, "Let the touring begin!"

I attended a small, popular hometown school in Virginia. My alma mater, Hampton University, had a beautiful, historic campus, but I knew it too well. There were no surprises for this Spanish major who also planned to teach.

I graduated in 1977. Boy, how college campuses have changed over the years!

In 2008, during Krissy's senior year in high school, we toured the University of Miami. I was taken aback as we passed students sprawled on the lawn in bikinis, sun-bathing while studying. That would have caused quite a commotion back in my day. The campus police would have declared this indecent exposure! Very risqué!

The day I moved my daughter into her dorm was an education in itself. At 57, I consider myself pretty "hip" and open-minded. I gasped when I realized I was moving my freshman daughter into a co-ed dorm. My mouth flew open as I watched in amazement young men stroll past females in the halls. During my college days, no freshman ever slept in a building with the opposite sex. That was a privilege reserved for upperclassmen.

A bit shaken, I asked Krissy when her curfew was. She looked at me like I was from the Stone Age.

"There is no curfew, Mom."

Did she really say that? No curfew? Twenty-four hours of total access? No way!

My open mouth was quickly replaced by a very worried look of confusion and dismay, which she promptly tried to diffuse by suggesting I relax. Oh, and not to worry because they had security guards at the doors to let you in. Comforting.

Our curfew was 11 p.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends. Anyone arriving after that had to resort to throwing a rock at a friend's window. If they were nice, they would open the side door and let you in. (This was way before cell phones!)

We picked up Krissy's parking permit, and this was when I found out she was going to take her car. Well, I just assumed she wouldn't be allowed. Only upperclassmen could have vehicles on campus when I went to college. Gee, what did these "newbies" have to look forward to?

Our cafeteria had a limited selection of food. If you didn't like the food, you had to go off campus (that usually meant finding someone with a car). Not anymore! Instead of trekking off campus in pursuit of a good meal, the major food chains came to the students. They were surrounded by Sbarro's Pizza, Panda Express, Jamba Juice, and more.

Krissy, a proud Hurricane, graduates this December with a degree in elementary education and an ESE (exceptional student education) degree. Needless to say, her campus experience makes mine look like I was doing hard time!

All that freedom and comfort! Shucks! It almost makes me wish I could do it all over again.

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