I still say that the minimum age at college should be 21
Let me take these one by one.
First, a woman bitching about the caliber of the Rhodes Scholars she's been interviewing:
An outstanding biochemistry major wants to be a doctor and supports the president's health-care bill but doesn't really know why. A student who started a chapter of Global Zero at his university hasn't really thought about whether a world in which great powers have divested themselves of nuclear weapons would be more stable or less so, or whether nuclear deterrence can ever be moral. A young service academy cadet who is likely to be serving in a war zone within the year believes there are things worth dying for but doesn't seem to have thought much about what is worth killing for. A student who wants to study comparative government doesn't seem to know much about the important features and limitations of America's Constitution.
Dammit, woman. These people have been in school since at least age 5. They've barely had time to do anything outside a planned environment. You expect them to answer questions more properly put to a middle-aged person? Even if the kids had spent their time in a classical liberal arts program, even high quality, you'd probably get a bunch of mush from them. I do not expect deep thoughts grounded in how the world actually is from a 22-year-old who has only read this stuff from a book.
Second, freshman bitching about how the world sucks.
Wow, I've never heard that from a teenager before.
Perhaps it's not a good idea to have people transition into adulthood while still in a school setting, hmm? Perhaps it would be a good idea for them to learn how to hold down a job, be responsible for themselves, live on their own, yadda yadda. Learn how to really have to make a budget. Learn how to hold their alcohol. Learn how to socialize with a variety of age groups, not simply a group +/- 3 years from their own age. Then, perhaps, they might be a bit more focused on the learning aspect of college, and not waste time on bullshit subjects just because it's easy. Maybe. You never know.
And something that seems unrelated, but is: A book about making life more like a videogame:
The book's thesis is essentially that real life isn't as fun or rewarding as videogames, and so life should be "fixed" to be more like the games. This would be achieved by applying gaming scenarios and game logic to real-life interactions, ranging from doing the laundry to saving the world. She details cute-sounding phone-based and online games, for instance, that are intended to ease the boredom of airport waits or encourage families to share household chores. She also shows how communal, game-like approaches have been used to imagine new energy policies and investigate public records for proof of corruption.
Here's a thought: life doesn't work like that; tough shit.
No, you are not going to get graded on everything you do. You don't level up. You don't get achievement stars. You can't go to the main menu and see that you've got 65% completion.
It sounds to me like people want to continue school -- where you are graded and ranked, and the goals are given to you rather clearly.
Perhaps a break in that attitude would help. When one gets back to the schooling grind, it's fine to remember the measuring stick differs from "real life". But it gets very annoying to see people not adjusting to the reality that no, things aren't always well-defined, and you won't always get people acknowledging your accomplishments -- sometimes never, but usually they do figure it out by middle age. Life expectancy may have raised over the past century, but it might be nicer if people caught on a little earlier. The extension of adolescence via college isn't helping the delay of "enlightenment".
So yes, I still say no one should be allowed into college until age 21. Do something productive and become independent. Some will determine that college isn't necessary into their young adulthood -- do sales and marketing really require a 4-year degree? Sure, if the college is high school 2: this time we really mean it. Some will go back and get the college degree.
And perhaps when the college students are actually adults, colleges won't need all the extra stuff they have now in admitting that yeah, they are still kids.
RELATED: John Tierney on the same subject, and the followup.