College students change, and then again they don't
The following is an excerpt from "When Dreams and Heroes Died," by Arthur Levine, one of the reports sponsored by the Carnegie Council on Policy Studies in Higher Education. This paperback paints a portrait of today's (late '70s) college student.
"As in pre-revolutionary times, the dominant campus group, culturally if not numerically, remains white males of upper -- and middle -- class backgrounds -- a pattern broken only by major wars.
"Some non-traditional students have always sought higher education -- in the days of the colonial colleges, they were the children of artisans, seamen, slaves, and small farmers -- and they continue to do so.
"Parents still occasionally send their unrully children away to school in the hopes of improving discipline or developing a bit of sophistication, and they are probably as often disappointed as their colonial ancestors.
"Students' reasons for attending college have not changed much, even if the preference for certain colleges and the character of the colleges themselves have. Student activism, once euphemistically called rowdiness, existed in the earliest colleges and continues to the present. Then, as now, however, activists comprised only a minority of undergraduates.
"The extracurricular life of the students continues as it always has to supplement the academic life of the college. When institutions were intellectually weaker than students would have liked, the extracurriculum stressed the intellectual. When colleges deemphasized the religious or social or physical, the extracu rriculum became its home. This is still the case."