Forbes Magazine recently published an articled entitled “College Daze” in which the author examined the slipping standards of American universities. According to the author, colleges are no longer a place to prepare young people for adulthood, but to instead prolong their childhood.
Rather than discipline students and train them for the real world, spineless professors are pampering their students through widespread grade inflation, no longer holding their students accountable for tardy and below average work. As the author sees it, college is a place to get maximum benefit with the least amount of effort. A Duke University administrator even noted that the school has run out of classroom space between the hours of 11 and 2:15 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, reflecting an effort on the part of the students to extend the weekend for as long as possible.
The author concludes that maturity and a strong work ethic are no longer valued principles in our generation. We are spoiled and we are lazy.
Now before I go into the ways I agree with the author, let me first say that I don’t think the situation is quite so dire. There is a tendency to reminisce about “the good ‘ol days,” romanticizing them in a way that exaggerates reality. Not everyone in college worked hard 30 years ago. I’m pretty sure there was a beer or two to be had. Plus, I have quite a few friends who have worked their tails off in college–probably working harder than was even healthy. Not all students used to be perfect, and not all students today are completely hopeless.
That said, the author is in many ways correct. Statistics dealing with grade inflation and class scheduling are tough to argue with. The author also noted how much complaining goes on when a prof isn’t a complete and total pushovers. It used to be considered a virtue when your professor prepared you for the real world by holding you accountable for late or unsatisfactory work. Now we whine and feel sorry for ourselves, maybe even call our profs a few choice names.
And I’ve done this. I can’t disagree with the author one bit on that point.
The reason I bring this up today is not to go on a rant about the laziness of our generation…though it is something we should think long and hard about. But the reason I raise this issue is that it challenges us all to pause and ask ourselves:
Why am I in school?
And don’t stop there. Why do I have this job? Wherever you are, why has God placed you there?
It’s so easy to think of our particular season in life as a means to an end. I go to school to get a good job. I get a good job so that I can make money and have the life I want. But we don’t always see our places in life as ends unto themselves. We don’t consider them to be a particular calling.
Yet this is an area in which Christians have an opportunity to stand out. Given the way our culture views our generation, we can break the mold by embracing college and our careers in an exceptional way. We can work diligently and carefully. We can refuse to join in with our peers in whining when our professor or boss is harsh or unforgiving. We can choose to have a positive attitude in the face of tough classes or difficult work environments, knowing that such experiences build character, perseverance, and discipline.
We can work as if we are working for God, and not man. (Col. 3:23)
We inhabit a generation that society has labeled lazy, immature, and irresponsible, but we cannot afford to let God’s name be tarnished with such a reputation. This is about more than ourselves, but about the name of Jesus Christ in this world. That is why college cannot be seen as just an opportunity to prolong our childhood and sew our wild oats, but must instead be seen as a high calling.
That is why any work is a high calling. Once we bear the name of Christ, everything we do is done in his name, whether it actually reflects his character or not. I challenge you to answer that high call this semester. It’s not just a hard chemistry class or a terrible psych prof–those are opportunities to glorify your Creator.