I Would Like to Thank the Academy

Thank you Hollywood for the romantification of college life.

Working on a college campus everyday you get to see some pretty amazing things. People figuring out who they want to be, making life long friendships, etc etc.

Movies and TV do depict these struggles in their stories, but OMG do you have to do it with all the exaggeration and plot twists?

I grew up watching shows like Gilmore Girls, Boy Meets World, Saved by the Bell, Dawson’s Creek and Felicity where they go off to college and things just get crazy! They set us up for unrealistic expectations of how the college life should be.

Let’s break down a recent episode of Glee-“Sweet Dreams” which aired on 4/18. Finn just enrolled in the University of Lima.

Here are some of my thoughts and observations:

1. A comment was made that college is like the perfect bubble between being a kid and being an adult and that you have the rest of your life to grow up. To an extent, I agree. However, the choices you make now can come back to you. Who in the room still is working on erasing their student debt situation? The students at college often don’t realize that they ARE adults. They have to make big life decisions at this point. Granted there is much more support here to do so and it is a safe place to explore different options, but you still need to be responsible for the choices you make and you can’t avoid it forever.

2. Hollywood Dorms are not the same as real life dorms. Yes there are buildings across the nation that are beautiful and state of the art and newly modeled. But the reality is that most residence halls were built decades ago and departments keep up with renovations as they are able. Gilmore Girls was by the far the worst example of what your housing will look like. Hello fireplace?

Hollywood glamorizes what these spaces will look like. They are always so spacious with gorgeous bay windows. Of course they will look nice on TV; you have millions in your set design budget. How are universities supposed to keep up with that expectation? Speaking as a residence life person, I think that most universities do a top notch job supplying the most comfortable space for students and are constantly looking for the practical ways they can meet student needs. And I am not trying to say that the halls don’t look nice. They do, but I think when they do not look exactly like the do on TV then I have to deal with the upheaval when parents and students don’t like that there is no fireplace in the room.

3. Slip and Slides in the residence halls. Way over done on the silver screen. Can we get something original here? Do I need to have my custodial folks tell you why this won’t happen? And not to mention all the waivers that would need to be signed for this? The policy violations that occur in the media are astounding. I will admit, I find them humorous to laugh and shake my head at how that confrontation would go down. I have had some funny things happen that I have had to confront over my time as a live in staff member. There is usually one thing every year that I am shocked by, but I think the media says that it is ok to go hog wild crazy when you get to college. There are no rules right?

4. Inevitably college students are made to look like they are dumb and gullible. There was a scene where two girls paid with their bras to do the slip and slide, and several other scenes depict traditional students with no common sense. Come on. Students do make silly mistakes and bad calls, but they deserve a little more credit than that. If we want them to act like adults, we need to treat them like it. Raise the bar a little bit. This is how we get things like Dance Marathon, Relay for Life, scholarship runs, new initiatives for sustainability, and countless other things.

5. Never once did you see Finn in class. Uh? You have to go to class folks! College wouldn’t be college without the CLASSES!

6. Greek life is depicted as drunk and stupid when the two fraternity men asked Finn and Puck to join the fraternity after a party. I was not Greek, so I cannot say fully what the experience was, but I know many who do affiliate with Greek life. Yes, I am not naive to say that they don’t have some pretty “neat” parties. But they do have some value besides how well can you perform their stereotypical keg-stand. The Greek system provides a support system for students, and they have some of the highest retention rates as a group. These groups provide a place for so many students. The leadership skills that are taught here often land them jobs after college, not to mention the networking helps. They do philanthropies and have school spirit. All have GPA requirements and many offer tutoring assistance to help meet these. Educate yourself a little bit before you judge someone by the letters on their jacket.

7. At the end of the episode, you hear Finn say that he had the Dean arrange that he could help out at Lima High for college credit. Um you just started school two weeks ago, bub. You are not already in your practicum classes. Often you see the romance of college and don’t see the studying and time that it takes to get to those practicum and experiential classes. And you can’t just tell the Dean what you want and poof that happens. Usually, there is a lot more paperwork involved.

I will say that the episode redeemed itself with Puckerman’s speech to Finn towards the end to get his act together to be accountable for being the best teacher he can be.

This is rarely the focus of the plot though. College is a place for you to discover pieces of yourself and grow as a person. Sometimes you come in knowing exactly what you want to do. Sometimes you change your major 7 times. Sometimes you drop out and come back. Sometimes you find clubs out of chance that will change the course of your life. Sometimes nothing goes your way. Sometimes everything goes your way. You never know what will happen when you roll off that loft bed and slip on those shower shoes. That is part of the excitement of exploring college life.

I hear so often when I have students in my office talking about their choices that they wanted to “have the normal college experience” or that “everyone is doing it.” I would beg to differ. I think media says this is the fairyland college experience and people in college try to emulate that or get disappointed when they can’t. Get into reality folks.

Don’t expect to be best friends with your roommate or everyone you meet. Don’t expect every night to be a drunk fest. Don’t expect to have things handed to you just because you asked for them from someone in higher administration. Don’t expect zero responsibility-you need to wake yourself up each morning and you have to attend classes to get a degree. There is a place for everyone on a college campus, but you do have to keep up with your classes in order to stay here.

I would say, come in expecting to learn something. You will learn something, guaranteed.

College is a wonderful place to do many things. You find out what you are made of. There are opportunities to do things that you may ever have the opportunity to do elsewhere. You can rebel and have your Felicity moment where you cut off all your hair to “free” yourself. You learn how to express yourself here, and there are so many things you can see and be here. There are so many doors to open and explore. I see students accomplish great things every day, and I cannot be more excited to continue working in Higher Education. But I need students to realize that Glee and other shows do not do our systems justice.

Although, you can expect that the Harlem Shake will occur everywhere just as Finn described.

I do realize that this is how they sell the story with these outlandish lifestyles and grandiose ideas. People want to see that and that is how they keep us engaged. And for the most part, students realize that Hollywood doesn’t depict real life. Thank goodness.

But every year, you get at least one student…

Speaking of college, my craft tonight goes out to my lovely college students that I have the pleasure of working with each week. We had our last staff meeting this week, so I wanted to give them a memento from our time together in Friley.

I was able to get tiles from the old dining center in our building from our facilities staff that were going to be thrown away. Then I got Iowa State scrapbook paper, yellow card stock, Iowa State stickers, felt stickers, mod podge and clear acrylic paint. Making some coasters!




First I cut out the yellow cardstock to fit the tiles. Then I created a design for each one with the ISU scrapbook paper and stickers.

One you do that, then put one layer of mod podge on the tile. Carefully place the scrapbook paper where you want it and roll out all the air from under the paper. The mod podge will dry it to the tile. Then you wait 15 minutes and do at least 3 more coats of mod podge. Each coat you need to wait until it is fully dry to do the next one.


You can see that at first it will look milky white but it will dry clear, so don’t panic at first.

Once you have all the coats of mod podge done then you want to do a few coats of the acrylic clear coat which will make them waterproof, which as it turns out is really helpful for coasters.

Then you let it sit over night to let it completely set/dry. After this was done I took the felt (the black pad in the picture above), and cut it into to squares to stick to the bottom of the tile so they won’t scratch tables as much. Being used floor tiles, I had to be careful to make sure I covered some of the bumps from all the crud they put on tile flooring. If you buy new tiles from Lowes, this should be fairly easy to do.

And there you go. A little piece of Friley Hall to take with us.


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