The paradox of being college-aged
In the eyes of the law, 18 year olds are adults, but in college, many students are still treated as children. While students have some new, adult responsibilities, many professors and RAs seem to take on a parental role with students. College and university students are given mixed signals about their place in society.
RAs are like substitute parents for students— babysitters. A group of friends hanging out on the weekend are still scared of getting reprimanded by their RAs if things get out of hand.
Quiet hours restrict students from being loud in the residence halls, as if they were in your parent’s house getting in trouble for making noise. Students living in dorms are on alert when hearing the scuttle of footsteps from down the hall to quiet everyone down. On one hand, there are no curfews like at home, but there are still regulations and regulators.
RAs make college students feel like they’re still in high school, and roommates often feel like siblings. They are encouraged to get along well and respect each other’s space. When problems arise, RAs intervene and try to mediate the conflicts between the two. RAs provide an impartial voice in mediating a feud between two roommates just as a parent would at home.
Adults, however, should be able to mediate their own problems and learn how to fight their own battles without a third person getting involved.
University of North Dakota Philosophy Professor Jack Russell Weinstein writes that adolescence in American culture has been extended to people’s mid-twenties.
College students are entering real life without any knowledge on how to resolve simple fights with their colleagues due to having their problems solved with help from a third party.
RAs –perhaps somewhat superficially– are often required to check in on their residents’ personal and academic lives by doing one-on-one meetings. Just as parents do when coming back from a stressful school day, RAs ask whether or not their residents are okay.
College professors also do their part in babying their students by restricting their actions during class. For example, many enforce bathroom and food policies during lectures. In the workplace, adult individuals have the decision to decide whether or not to eat or go to the bathroom, so why should college students be restricted during classes? Instructors mark student attendance every day and often resort to disciplinary action.
While college students are viewed as young children by a college professor and RAs, they might also have more responsibilities than high schoolers.
Students work jobs to support themselves financially; many have bills to pay. Most balance their time between work and school. Students can’t fall behind academically without risk of losing scholarships. These are only a few of the many demanding responsibilities college students are expected to uphold.
Many of my own peers have expressed the sentiment, “I’m learning to manage my time, work and social life without anyone holding my hand. The independence and maturity aspect of college is the reason I chose to go away to college.”
College students want to have the opportunity to begin learning how to balance their own life, but not have the restrictions imposed on them. There is a desire to be resilient, and not run to mommy and daddy for help anymore.
Moreover, students are obligated to do daily tasks that their parents would do for them if they were still living at home: doing laundry, taking out the trash. Many are doing so for the first time. College students’ responsibilities are solely their own. They choose their classes and have the responsibility to get to class on time. Students learn how to manage their time without their parents constantly telling them that they need to do their homework or go to sleep early.
College is the time when students are able to learn about themselves and pick themselves up when they fall down. However, too much responsibility at once can come as a shock.
Alma Guardado is a first year who doesn’t want to grow up.