Why are there no great college stories?
There is an infinite amount of adolescent Catcher in the Rye-type stories, and quarter-life crisis road trip stories make up 90 percent of film festivals everywhere. Where is the college story that spins your mind in circles as it tries to decipher the what and why of our time here? Is it that there is just nothing romantic about college?
There are, of course, plenty of great comedies about college. Maybe that’s because college is a joke. The most accurate college story I can think of is the Rules of Attraction, and all the characters in it are dead inside.
It’s ironic that all our lives, it is ingrained into our understandings of the world that we need this experience if we are to be persons of worth, but what we find when we get here is an emotional vacuum that sucks the fire out of us with huge impersonal lecture halls, binge drinking and escapist tendencies toward getting high.
I have planned and attempted in various stages to write about nearly every period of life I have experienced thus far, but when I look for the story here, I feel like I’m reaching for humanity inside of a machine. This machine was built to create an expensive but fun four-year experience, and we, the customers, are churned out four years later blinking in confusion at the brightness of the world, holding a paper that says we are educated. Everyone wins, except the guy who needs to get a story out of everything.
Now infamous adventurer, Christopher McCandless wrote, “The core of man’s spirit comes from new experience.”
I agree, and see in this precisely the problem with college. After the honeymoon stage of the first couple months, it began to remind me of that old stalemate feeling from high school. There has been no new experience here to make me feel alive and passionate.
I’m hereby refusing to accept the college grind. All life needs adventure to be worthy of remembering, so I am setting out to find the adventure at Temple and Philadelphia, too.
I have had a feeling for some time now at Temple. There is a world full of life around us that I haven’t yet discovered.
So from now on, each week I will set out on a different adventure. The stories from these adventures will be chronicled in this column. I will participate, join and observe all the adventures at Temple, hiding in plain sight.
Afterward, good or bad, I’m going to share my experiences with you, my audience, so we can all together have the essential college experience we were promised.
Greg Trainor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.