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By milleniumfalcon
July 9, 2008

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As a new adjunct professor, I park my Honda, and walk for a bit to get to my building. I'm not teaching at a Harvard or a Princeton. I'm teaching at the University of South Florida, a typical school in the typical state university system. On the way to my building I pass new Beemers and Audis and the occasional Benzo. I find it amazing, as always, the odd priorities today's college students have.

Almost all of my students work full time and go to school full time. There's no problem with that necessarily. However, I would say that most of my students over the years miss at least three or four classes per semester. They don't do most of the readings for the classes either, which makes teach and having in-class discussions amazingly difficult.

"So tell, me, of the three theories about interpersonal communication we read about, which did you like best? Social exchange theory? Dialogical theory? Relational dialectics?"

"Chirp. Chirp. Chirp."

I'm not blaming our consumerist society for all this. Some students in my classes should not be in college at all. It used to be that students tried to get into college. Now it seems that colleges try to get students. Anyway...

I was asking my students why they were working full-time. Most all of them said they lived at home, which makes sense since USF is a commuter school. Most said they worked full-time to pay for their cars and their car insurance. Old cars won't do. They generally have to be shiny and new. And then they have their credit cards.

It got me thinking that one of the problems isn't just that they don't have time to read, but that even when they do they are exhausted, which disturbs comprehension, critical thinking, and understanding.

Call this an unintended consequence of making bad financial decisions.