Friday, July 27, 2007

Culture Shock

Last night I listened to a bunch of college-aged kids talking about their experience of applying to college. Wow, a lot has changed since I was that age. They were talking about college applications being time-consuming, about strategizing how many applications to do, and about working with a "counselor" on their college apps.

I seem to remember that working on college applications was not a big deal. Most of them asked for a bunch of biographical information (easy and quick to fill out), had a few small spaces where you were supposed to write in activities and awards (on a list -- again, easy to fill out), and you had to write a one-page essay (single spaced). I'm pretty sure that the schools I applied to expected the essay to fit in a box on the back page of the application because I remember laser printing mine (a big deal back in 1990!) and taping it to fit in the spot. Oh, and you had to write a check.

They didn't take very long to do. I suspect that the total time that I spent on all my college applications combined was easily dwarfed by the amount of time I spent in any single week just hanging out with my friends. The only thing that my guidance counselor did as part of the process was to print copies of my transcript and put them in the mail.

At first I thought that it might be related to my generation having colluded to slack. I fondly remember the slacker culture of the early 1990s. I still have some flannel left from then.

But then I realized, it's not an attitude difference but rather an issue of supply vs. demand. I was born in 1973, and they were born in 1989-ish. The internet found me a graph of the number of births in the US by year. I'd like to gloat and say that they're doomed, but I suspect that my slacker-people will need to either deal with them or else compete against them fairly soon.