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Today’s College Students

A Reader

Series:

Edited By Pietro A. Sasso and Joseph L. DeVitis

America’s undergraduates truly represent a mind-boggling diversity. Today’s College Students: A Reader looks at a wide variety of student groups and identities, which sets it apart from other texts on contemporary college students that do not cover such a broad spectrum. The editors and contributors also invite students, their instructors, and other college/university practitioners to be mindful of the crucial, yet sometimes overlooked, connection between extra-curricular campus activities and learning. Sustaining educational moments throughout the undergraduate experience, in and out of the classroom, is why colleges exist. This volume thus reminds us that both social interaction and individual critical reflection are vital collegiate processes, especially in an age of consumerism and the McDonaldization of higher education. Ultimately, the text seeks to reinforce and augment the rich diversity that can make college more rewarding for us all. It is especially useful for courses devoted to today’s college students and diversity, the multicultural university, college student development, and student affairs administration.

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Introduction (Pietro A. Sasso and Joseph L. DeVitis)

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Introduction Pietro A. Sasso and Joseph L. DeVitis I went to college because I didn’t have anywhere else to go and it was a fabulous hang. And while I was there I was exposed to this world that I didn’t know was possible. —Tom Hanks I loved [college] for what it provided me access to: bonds with people I grew to cherish. And nothing was better than working toward my dreams alongside people I loved who were doing the same. —Liz Murray, Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey From Homeless to Harvard (2011) Typically, college admissions websites and brochures create exorbitant optimism about higher edu- cation. They mirror the excitement and energy of first-year student welcome weeks, residence hall move-in days, and the initial anxiety of adult learners scurrying to find their classroom locations. Yet the distance between this description and the actual student experience often reflects a less sanguine narrative. That narrative—set between the margins of catalogues, policies, procedures, protocols, strategic plans, grants, retention reports, financial statements, and assessment data— paints a less ideal portrait of college life, one in which the students we presumably serve seem to be peculiarly left out of sight. As a profession and an industry, higher education—like most institutions—is hardly infallible. Its long, often contentious history has moved from a focus on in loco parentis (in place of parents) to alma mater (caring mother) to caveat emptor (buyer beware). Similarly, contemporary colleges have shifted to a kind...

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