A look at the stereotypical college student
By Kristen Hoverman
I was watching a movie the other
night after a long week at school. It was one of those stereotypical movies
portraying college students as lazy, self absorbed, alcoholic sex maniacs
who only care about one thing, when’s the next party?
The characters in these films are always the same. You have the jock in
flip-flops that is dating the sorority girl in a pencil skirt, who is
friends with the tattooed-slacker who rarely comes to class, who picks
on the audio-visual geek and lastly the weird loner student who doesn’t
fit in. Put all these people together, add a wild party and poof you have
yourself a teen movie.
Sometimes they will mix up the plot by adding the band nerd, the choirgirl
or some snobby rich kid, but in a nutshell this is how college students
are portrayed in movies.
Given this perspective, is this really what people think college students
Searching the Internet for studies on perceptions of college students
only wielded a collection of dirty jokes, movie advertisements and Web
sites where term papers can be purchased starting at $5.99. This got me
wondering about how the media portrays college students and how it affects
how people see college students.
I was talking with someone the other day about the subject. She was frustrated
by a girl in her class who was talking while the professor was giving
a lecture and she became angry when the girl said,” I am so glad
that I am back in school, because I missed the parties.”
Claudia McDonald, an office technician for the state, said she believes
that college students are lazy partiers. “From what I’ve noticed
and what I’ve read the grade doesn’t mean as much as it used
to,” McDonald said. “They’re dumbing down the whole
Others interviewed said public stereotypes of college students were incorrect.
“There is less usage of drugs and partying,” said Mike Pfister,
a 1982 graduate of Fresno State, “things that have been there in
“The job market is more competitive now,” Pfister said. “They
have less free time.”
Larry Ramirez, alumnus, respects college students. “For the most
part, I think they are focused on a mission to get an education.”
“I look upon college students as working a full-time job and not
getting paid,” Ramirez said. “Their payment is their diploma.”
Of course students are focused, especially with the price they pay for
their education. And yet college students are often judged by what people
see in the movies.
“I am a college student...I drink Beast from a keg and Busch Light
from a can. I will walk in the cold, dark and snow for beer but refuse
to go to class in the same weather,” Ramirez said.
“I think everyone should go partying,” he said. “However,
I think the media blows it out of proportion.”
Kevin Shady, a hazardous substances engineer, believes there is no straight
answer. “Yeah, there are college students who just party, “Shady
said. “There are also students who don’t party, spend their
time studying in the library and don’t cheat.”
“But how do you learn to behave at a cocktail party without going
to a party in college?” Shady said.
Clayton Eha, a history major at Fresno State, believes the stereotyping
of college students is unfairly based off a small percentage of students
who are trying to figure out who they are after high school. “Many
campuses get the negative connotation of being like Old School or being
like American Pie where it’s nothing but sex, drugs and rock-n-roll
24 hours a day,” Eha said.
A perfect example of one school becoming the media’s stereotype
for the behavior of other college students is California State University,
Chico has become a college that has drawn negative attention to the CSU
system stemming from a case of alcohol poisoning in January and a hazing
death in February.
As a result, Chico plays into the media’s stereotype of the wild,
out of control college.
When recent legislation against Chico’s Greek system was handed
down last month, banning alcohol from fraternity houses and shutting down
Rush week, many CSU students took notice.
“You’re never supposed to judge a book by its cover,”
Eha said, “But it’s kind of hard when you’ve got people
wearing Corona T-shirts and Guinness T-shirts, which I’m guilty
“I think stereotyping is a pretty harsh thing to do, laziness is
inherent in everybody not just a group of people,” he said.
These days college students are carrying extra heavy loads, paying more
for tuition, managing their homework time and proving to the world that
they are hardworking people who deserve more credit than the outdated,
overused stereotypes allow.
As a pseudo-choirgirl, audio-visual geek with a hint of weird-loner college
student, I resent the way college students are stereotyped. Sure some
students like to party and some students sleep through classes, I think
most college students have at one time or another.
However, the majority of college students take college seriously and work
very hard for their education.
It’s unfair to package and sell an image of all college students
that only reflects a small population of students and their actions.
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