Many parents believe that earlier preparation for college is essential for children. While educating and improving chances for college, this also takes away part of childhood. Early college preparations add stress to the lives of children, as they not only take time, but also add the responsibility for significant decision-making and thinking about one’s future. At the same time, colleges, which are perceived as gates to successful future, are not as effective as they are seen by the older generation (parents). Higher education does not provide a solid guarantee of a better future for children. Moreover, college experiences prove to be not exactly what parents are expecting their children to encounter in college. By overviewing a movie Animal House this paper shows that higher education might not be worth all the complex preparations children undergo before college.
It is true that in American culture higher education has a significant role. It is seen as a synonym to success and higher place in the society. People with education are commonly seen as good employees, who not only have some knowledge in the sphere they are working in, but their degree also shows a set of personal qualities. Employees might see the degree as an example of diligence; ability to achieve set goals; task-orientation, etc. Therefore, modern parents are willing to make their children get a college education. In order to enter an appropriate college, children begin an early preparation, which is fostered by their parents. This preparation includes higher grades in school, extracurricular activities, studying with tutors, etc. It seems that the preparation gets stronger and starts earlier and earlier. As a result, children tend to have less free time and are more involved in activities, the meaning and importance of which they do not understand. Even after entering a college, young people tend to focus not on education, but on socializing with their peers and having fun, as it is seen in the movie Animal House. Here the protagonists are young people who organize parties in their fraternity home and don’t have any interest in education.
Arthur Traxler, who emphasizes on the early college preparations, presents another approach to the early preparation of children for college. This researcher also states that early preparations can increase the child’s chances for entering a good educational institution. Guidance for college preparation has to be initiated by the end of 6th grade. Traxler notes that if sophomores or even juniors in high school have not decided yet, which career (and thus educational) path they are going to choose, this is a great disadvantage for young people, which decreases their chances for adequate preparation and entering a proper college.
It is quite true that early learning is extremely essential, especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, who go through gaps in education from the earliest years in school (College and Career Readiness). Children have more problems catching up with the curriculum in middle and high school than they do at earlier ages. At the same time, while taking a look at this argument that someone might use, it is essential to think that, if children from disadvantaged backgrounds are not able to get a proper education even at school, their parents won’t be interested in supporting college preparation for their children.
While some authors focus on the preparation of children to college, others underline the complexity of the issue and the possible lack of necessity for such strong actions. Firstly, some researches, state that students are forced to choose their college before they are ready to. And this research speaks of high school students. Thus, children of younger age have even less ide of the future they are willing to have and the disciplines they would like to pursue. Young people (and children) who still have not decided what they are interested in are at the same time forced to prepare for the future, which they are not interested in. Secondly, extracurricular activities, future uncertainty and the pressure of the decision-making process connected to the choice of college end disciplines to study create additional stress for children. Next, when the college preparation starts very early, when children are still not trusted with their own decisions, the choices for the future are made by the parents. Still, these choices might not be supported by the grown-up children, who can, consequently, make a different decision and not even go to college. Thus, the early college preparations have some negative side-effects for children and do not guarantee any success in the future.
To understand why parents are forcing their children into the preparations for college and choice of the career as young as possible one should look at the way people perceive college and education. From the very childhood everyone is encouraged to learn and collect knowledge. One has to learn diligently, which is a guarantee of a stable life in the future. Why exactly and what should happen as a result, children are somehow not particularly told. One should just learn well and everything will be tiptop. After school one has to be sure to go to university. Previously there was no such craze of higher education, as it is today. Nowadays from all sides young people and children are told that higher education is the key to success. Still, there is no clarification of what kind of success that will be.
Currently there are hundreds of higher educational institutions of different size and scale, and the number keeps increasing. Of course, there are several US colleges universities, which are known world-wide: Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Berkley, MIT, and several others. And there are thousands of colleges and universities throughout the United States. Some of them are quite old, and many have opened recently as a response for the growing demand for higher education. It is a commonly-known fact that education in the United States is expensive and, unless the family saves money for college, children can enter only with scholarship. Thus, college has to be viewed not only as educational institution, but also as a source of significant profit. Consequently, for people operating universities and colleges the modern higher educational craze is quite beneficial.
Another interesting thing that should be looked at is the way college is presented in media and, consequently, how high school graduates imagine their life after school. A film Animal House is, probably, the first movie about college that laid the ground for dozens of other college-themed comedies. All the films have the common idea and presentation of college: a place, where young people have fun, party, drink, date, etc. Education comes as one of the last (and least important) elements in college experience. In Animal House students not only party hard, but also challenge the official college authority – their dean, who tries to add higher standards to the educational institution. This film is just one example of the idea, which schoolchildren get about college: it is a place of freedom, fun and partying. Therefore, college experience is seen not as an educational one, but as a chance to have several years free of responsibilities and worries about the future. And, while students are having fun, their parents are still paying college bills.
Education in general and higher education in particular are not an end in itself. Strictly speaking, the goal here is to get some professional knowledge that in the future, after graduation, the newly made specialists will use for the benefit of themselves and society. And most importantly this knowledge will be enough to get a proper job with good salary. But, while people tend to choose some professions that they see to be profitable and respected (for example, layers), the society does not offer enough working spots for everyone who graduated with appropriate degree. Thus, it is a common thing nowadays to see people with degree in one sphere working in a totally different one. As a result, their college years can be seen as spent without a purpose, as information learned in college cannot be applied at the workplace. The same pattern is seen in Animal House, where in the end in freeze frames the viewer sees that Deltas, who were the partying house, have become respected citizens despite being expelled from college during the film. At the same time, Omegas, who seemed to be better well-behaved students, have become not that respected ad Deltas.
This paper has shown that early preparation to college is commonly seen as a positive element introduced by schools and parents. At the same time, one can notice that early burden of future choices creates a negative influence on the emotional and mental state of teenagers, who are not ready to make a decision about their future path. Moreover, this paper shows that the positive impact of higher education on the successful future of young generation is overestimated. Teenagers are thinking about college not as a place they would like to go in order to get knowledge and solid basis for their future; they are thinking of it as a place where one can be irresponsible for a couple more years, have fun and relax. Education comes only after the idea of newly-gained freedom. Thus, one can assume that the role of higher education in modern society is perceived as more important than it actually is.