Absolutely average

Ron Soltys

A classic argument often spews the all too familiar statement, “That isn’t normal.”

A counter question in response might be “What is normal?”

I browse the Internet furiously; I read blogs and lurk on forums. I meticulously flip from discussion to debate, letting all the fervent or sarcastic remarks coagulate in the storm of my mind. Relative terms are inescapable; they are so limited. By their very nature they are incomplete, they are broken — and yet we are a victim to their convenience and short-sighted reliability.

These snippets intrude any and every aspect of our character; they can be positive or negative. I suppose for the sake of relativity I will dig into the description of a “normal” college student.

Younger people tend to feel college life is something glamorous, a “nothing’s holding me back anymore” free-for-all of whatever vice you can get your hands on — a new challenge, a new you, a new world to explore. Not every high school student sees college as nothing more than a good time, but the prospect of an atmosphere unfiltered by parental guidance tastes all too sweet to kids who feel resentment toward their parents for not letting them experience anything for themselves.

Conversely, the “Greatest Generation” and their immediate successors see college as nothing more than expensive daycare; college students party all night, sleep all day and have sex everywhere with anybody possible. The party-hard lifestyle that movies and social stigmas embolden becomes the model for popular opinion, a vision that comes to fruition all too often on campus. They only see the thin layer of college life that composes a small fragment of the actual experience — one that, while varied, derives much of its substance from work and study.

Anybody walking down campus can regard a sea of faces and think to themselves whatever they want about all the college students they pass. Maybe that girl on the phone with the boots with the furrrr is a slut. Maybe that guy with the North Face jacket and hipster sunglasses is another binge-drinking delinquent. You will probably never see those people again, so what does your snap judgment bring that is at all meaningful?

The reality of the matter is that there are thousands and thousands of people at this campus, and what people think of this college applies readily to only a small sample of students. A blindingly large portion of the students I have befriended at this university are both intelligent and mature. They’ve provided me with a positive image to look toward, a niche of young adults aspiring to be educated in some way, shape or form.

The fact that a small sample of conduct at college seems juvenile to some does not diminish the personality or accomplishments of people who work very hard while they are here. The menial things we believe as knee-jerk reactions dissolve almost entirely as we get to know people.

College is more than a party, a realization that comes to all of us — and hopefully is brought to the attention of others, younger and older, who are on the outside looking in.

Ron Soltys thinks scrutiny is all too common. Keep the ad hominem stuff to e-mails at [email protected].