COLUMN: Why so serious?

Rob Le Cates

Will Padgett is a graduate student studying English and can be reached at 581-2912 [email protected].

Will Padgett, Columnist

You know what, I am going to go back to being (semi) serious for a second. A couple weeks ago, I wrote a column talking about what my place was in writing the wacky columns I do and feeling as if it was not my right to mix up The News’s serious formula 

However, in thinking about this idea, I think that the picture that high school teachers paint of college is so off-base that it is not even remotely representative of how college actually is.  

But what is the reason they engage in this sort of hyperbole or outright lying? Is it to scare high schoolers into doing well?  

Is there so little trust in high school students that their teachers feel like they have to make college out to be this Big Bad that is bereft of all fun and laughter? Who is that for? Let us discuss. 

I remember being in high school a trillion years ago and having multiple teachers tell me and my peers that college professors are the most rigid, stuffy people on the face of the planet. “College professors will absolutely require you to call them ‘doctor’ or ‘professor’ and NEVER call them by their first name”.  

While I have definitely had professors ask me and my peers to refer to them as “doctor” (which I have no problem doing), I have also had multiple instances where college professors insisted I call them by their first name (looking at you, Mr. McNeill from Lake Land).  

It only makes sense to drop at least some of the formality in the transition between high school and college; you ARE an adult in the latter after all. 

I also distinctly remember high school teachers saying that college classes will never have extra credit and you would not be allowed to use calculators in the math-oriented ones.  

I mean…come on, both of those statements are objectively untrue. Now, admittedly I have not taken a math class in years, but I was always allowed to use my calculator because, uh, why would I not be able to?  

Literally no employer (unless they are genuinely insane) will ask you something like, “Hey, solve this incredibly complicated math problem but you cannot use any tools that would help you. You have to do it all by hand because we hate you”.  

Trying to say that is how the world works is more unhinged than any article I have ever written. And the “no extra credit” thing? Total bologna.  

I can count on one hand the amount of times a professor did NOT offer extra credit in some capacity. So my high school teachers straight-up lied. But why? 

Some of you might think that it is because they were carrying over their personal college experiences. While that may be true, most of my teachers did not attend college in the 40’s.  

Did they lie or exaggerate to ensure I took college seriously? Sure, that is a fair point…if you are trying to make college sound like a hellhole. Like I said earlier, I have been out of high school for a long while so this whole “make college sound terrible” approach may have gone by the wayside. 

But if that is the case my question now is, “Why did it ever start in the first place?” For shits and giggles? I hope not; it was never funny.

Will Padgett is an English graduate student. He can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.