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.