College Students and a Crisis of Confidence


Gallup reports a “crisis of confidence among most students” when coeds are asked about life after college: Thirty-four percent of students expect to graduate ready to launch a successful career.

A quick review of campus life makes 34 percent sound like too many.

Start with concierges. Inside Higher Ed reports this week that New Mexico State University now offers a concierge service for students that will book personal travel, make dinner reservations, and fold laundry. One can only assume the service provider said the following with a straight face:

“They are the future leaders and they are very stressed… They have a lot going on their lives. Often they are going to college and university not in their home area, and getting acquainted with the area … and we want to relieve some of the stress they might feel.”

Meanwhile LSU has a lazy river in the shape of the school’s initials. Not to be outdone, Mizzou has a lazy river and a spa that promises to “transform your dullest day into a vacation.”

So we shouldn’t be surprised at the concierges, also available to students at High Point University in North Carolina. Such services are a natural escalation of the arms race between schools in the form of country club-style perks. High Point also has its own ice cream truck.

These amenities have been criticized as questionable (at best) expenses, but a legitimate concern is the kind of adults colleges are sending off into the world. Heaven help the graduate left to their own devices when they have to find a job across town or—forbid—in another state. Students be forewarned: Google has an in-house masseuse and bean bag chairs, but the company cannot not hire all of you.

Eighty-three percent of university chief academic officers say their focus is “helping students use their degrees to get good jobs,” but campus life outside of the classroom doesn’t appear to be aligned with this goal. You can’t reschedule when the office opens every day like you did to avoid 8 a.m. classes.

Obviously not all students fall into the category of the overly comfortable. Loans to pay tuition and part-time jobs are a reality for many. But colleges would do well to give students more to be confident about and not shield them from adversity as a matter of course.

Progressives complain that state spending on higher education has decreased in recent years. Perhaps schools could do more to demonstrate that taxpayer dollars are being used to sharpen students for the challenges ahead of them instead of giving them a safe place to land.




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