Pat of Port Washington, NY writes:
My daughter will be off to college (Bennington, VT) in a few weeks. Should she take along her laptop, iPhone, and assorted (sordid?) toys?
The College Whisperer responds:
Toys? Did you say, toys?
Laptops, iPads, and those other accoutrements of 21st Century life are not toys, madam (um, er, sir? ;-). They are a modern means of communicating, of emoting, of staying in touch with friends, drinking buddies (21 and over, please), Sorority sisters, professors, and, yes, the world.
Laptops and netbooks have long ago replaced the desktop on college campuses, to the delight of students (who take the laptop or netbook to class for note-taking and, sigh, occasional web browsing during one of those long, boring lectures) as well as Dads (who no longer have to lug that cumbersome desktop -- or the comparably unportable 500 pound tube TV -- up six flights of stairs to the dorm room).
And while some professors (still stuck up in the ivory towers of the 19th century, we presume) frown upon laptops in the classroom [note the physics professor at the University of Oklahoma, stressing the point that laptops are not permitted in the classroom, who dipped the portable in liquid nitrogen before proceeding to smash it on the floor], most welcome, if not encourage the intrusion. Indeed, almost every college campus, save the most remote, now features wireless classrooms and dorms. Some, like St. John's University in New York, even give free laptops to incoming students.
Laptops -- and now, smart phones, whose data plans enable them to do everything a laptop can, and more -- are the quintessential research tools, entire libraries and banks of knowledge at the tip of one's finger, literally.
Leave that iPhone (and Siri) at home? Unlike the good old days, most dorm rooms no longer come equipped with land lines. How will your daughter call home or, of at least equal import, call in for pizza or burritos at 3 AM?
Tell me you're not going to chat with your college freshman on Skype or its Internet video equivalent? You want to actually see what's going on in that habitat fit for inhumanity, don't you?
Yes, we are in the throes of the information age, and our college kids are in the thick of it, on the edge (not ledge, edge), leading the way.
Sure, it may be tough for us parental units to keep up, let alone understand why our kids rely so heavily upon these electronic gadgets, particularly so when we recall our college years, when notes were taken on parchment and, well, who called home? Get over it. Dare I say, get with it!
The iPhone or Android, or so it would seem, has become a permanent appendage to every teen's hand. The laptop, as much a tool for learning, adapting, creating (who knows? Your child may be the next Bill Gates) and imagining, as it is for fraternizing.
More than this, these "toys," like the Teddy Bears of old, are a link to home, to innocence, to, believe it or not, the security of Mom and Dad. They provide access and diversion. They give students -- and parents on the other end of those personal communication devices -- something which few "take alongs to college" can replicate. Comfort!
Take those toys to college? Why, The College Whisperer would not leave home without them. After all, these toys are, in a very real sense, your child's portal to infinity and beyond!
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer.
Who knows what peril lurks in the college application and admissions process? The College Whisperer knows. . .
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