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identity theft

“Tommy’s indifference applied to his everyday decisions as well as his broader reflections. On the issue of choosing his academic program, he said, “I don’t know what I’m going to take next term. They make you pick some courses. I’ll just say ‘what the hell’ and flip a coin or something.” On the question of aspirations, Tommy was quite comfortable with having none: “I don’t really have goals for my future. What’s the big deal about that? It would be fun to travel. I’d like that, especially if I could get someone to pay for it. ”

from Academically Adrift by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa


This quote is from a recent research study into the health of higher education in the United States. I came across the study when it was mentioned in an opinion piece in The New York Times; the op-ed writer was very prickly about the whole situation. Who was to blame if our universities were no longer truly educating our youth? Is higher education going down the tubes, or are the kids just slackers?

I thought the study was a little hard on the students; I feel sorry for Tommy. I wonder if he realized what the researchers thought about him and his “aspirations.”

I will add that when I was in college, the major credit card companies took turns setting up tables in the post office and in the student union: Hello children, step right up and get yourself some credit! I associated a credit card with jobs and responsibility and adulthood, so I skirted by those tables and graduated without one. After that, I was way too economically undesirable to get one.

Later in my twenties, I was grateful for my accidental solvency. I had one friend in particular who had lived on a credit card for two years while he was in graduate school. The phone rang often. It was usually a collector. Another friend was deported, (or maybe he just ran away), back to Australia because he had maxed out six or seven cards at around 20K each.

All this to say yes, it would be fun to travel if someone else would pay for it.

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