Just last week, all of the major news channels were filled with stories lamenting the high cost of college. Students across the country, even in my home state of Arizona, were protesting in droves against rising tuition, books, and fraternity dues even as the college administrators at the public universities drew hefty six-figure salaries, bonuses, car, and even home allowances. Why wouldn’t we want more of our tax dollars to fund education? The personal stories about kids working three jobs to pay for school have been nothing less than gut-wrenching.
Then enter the latest major news story to fly across the airwaves yesterday that made most reasonable-thinking people stop and shake their heads: Students are being cautioned by the State Department to avoid Mexico as a Spring Break destination. Instead, the State Department suggests, how about an Aspen ski vacation or a houseboat rental on Lake Pleasant?
Now, there are about a dozen red flags that pop out from the Spring Break vacation destination story alone. But here’s what leaped out of my not quite HDTV-ready television set and grabbed me by the collar: If college is so expensive, who the heck can afford a vacation?
Mexico? Aspen? Houseboats? Is this a joke?
I attended the University of Illinois not that long ago and here’s what my Spring Break destination vacation looked like…
The morning after mid-terms, I’d cram myself into a death-trap of a car with about six other sleep-deprived fellow Illini students for the two-hour drive north on the Interstate to my hometown outside Chicago to save money on gas. Spring Break in my world meant sleeping in a couple of days, working at my parents’ small store on Higgins Road, and evenings with friends who were also home on Spring Break to catch up on some sleep and laundry. Full disclosure: Okay, more than a few adult beverages were happily consumed during the evenings with my friends, but there was never any creepy guy following us around with a video recorder waiting for us to make fools of ourselves. I’m pretty sure that the guys I hung with back then would have crammed the video camera in the smarmy face of that guy who makes his living pimping clueless college girls in the Girls Gone Wild videos. Wish a few of today’s college kids would wise-up and do the same.
I’m also fairly certain that if I asked my Dad for the cash to fund a Mexico or Aspen skiing vacation it would have been met with a deep belly laugh. Or two. After he wiped the tears from his eyes, Dad would have said, “You want what to go where?” And then he might have added, “Have you started smoking dope or something?”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t begrudge anyone for taking a vacation. Go for it! Vacation anywhere you want! Just spare me the sob stories about the high cost of college and the student protests with the lame signs because, let’s face it, college is just one big vacation anyway compared to everything else.
::Writer X also writes at The 100 Most Annoying Things::