Tuesday, September 12, 2017

College Then and College Now

This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.  May contain referral links.

School is in full swing at the university town near me.  I'm in the city about once a week and I always see college students with their backpacks full of books, hearts full of dreams and a mobile phone in hand.

As I look at the new generation of students at my Alma Mater, I have to think back to my days of school in a non-tech world.  I not only had to go to a computer lab to check e-mail as no one had computers at that time, but we also had to take a floppy disk with us to be able to access our e-mail.  We were unreachable unless we were in our dorm room, and the only way we could watch a movie was to go out and rent something on VHS.

So how has technology changed how one goes to school?  Many different ways.  I remember taking an off campus class when I was in college.  The lectures were on TV on the public TV station in the early morning hours.  I had to set my VCR to tape them.  (And I waited until near the end of the semester and my VHS tape broke, so I wasn't able to access any lectures!  I still made a C in the class even though I basically didn't go all semester.)

A recent U.S. Cellular survey says that 59% of smartphone users watch video from their device, up from 48% just three years ago. Think what a much better grade I could have received in that class if I could have watched my classes online and not have to rely on a clunky old VHS tape!  We had two lectures on campus in that class, and I could have even recorded them on my iPhone 7+ if it had existed in the 1990s.  Instead I had a cassette recorder I took with me to class, and it never recorded very well.

I took my VHS video camera with me all four years of college.  It was huge, took up tons of space, but has provided me with many hours of footage for my friends and me to watch and enjoy.   On top of that I had a couple different cameras in my dorm room.   Look how much room that would have saved me just in

A smartphone would have made road trips so much more enjoyable.  I can remember one road trip where the only thing that was played on the TV / VCR combo in the bus was children's cartoons.  The only people who were able to block it out were those who brought a CD player.  Just think, with streaming music and video, we could have made playlists and downloaded our own movies to watch on the trip rather than having to hear vegetables sing for over 20 hours in a row.

I loved to read, and I took several literature classes in college.  Some of my textbooks were over 1,000 pages long.  So many classics are available for free on the Kindle app, that I could have saved myself some cash and some back pain if I could have just downloaded the books onto an iPad.   Many of the classics I remember reading, such as Last of the Mohicans are in public domain and free for download.

I never had the time to watch TV when my favorite shows aired when I was in school.  I missed the first season of The Simpsons.  I missed the last season of ALF.  My mother tried to tape all the episodes for me, but that resulted in a huge stack of VHS tapes and her sometimes forgetting.  Now students can use Netflix and Hulu to catch what they have missed, and binge watching has become a "thing" -- even though I guess that's what I did back in the day with all my Mr. Ed reruns my mother recorded for me.

When I was a student, if we were waiting, we had to wait.  Sometimes I had a craft I was working on in my backpack, or if I anticipated the wait would be long enough, I would pull out a book and start studying.  Now students can download apps to play games as simple as Solitaire or as complex as Monopoly.  They don't even have to make their way to to the computer lab and log in to play 30 minutes of games.  They can have them with them at all times.

It's been 20 years since I received my degree.  Would you believe I still have nightmares about me forgetting I had signed up for a class and not remembering to be there and failing the course?  Smartphones help with scheduling, and we all know how busy college students are, so to be able to keep their planner in electronic form instead of a book would help tremendously with time management.  I kept an agenda in my backpack at all times, and I would have loved to have been able to have tracked everything in a phone.

One thing I remember my roommates and I never agreeing on was our alarm clocks.  I never liked red numbered alarm clocks -- I always preferred green.  One roommate had an identical alarm clock to mine, and it was difficult for us to tell the alarms apart.  Another roommate said my clock was too big and ticked too loudly  (I had difficulty getting up for my 7:30 class and switched to an old fashioned alarm clock with a clapper.)   Think how much easier it would be now using a mobile device to wake up in the morning.  Especially if you and your roommates agreed to use different ring tones for phone calls and alarms.  I know I could have slept through an alarm going off if I knew it wasn't mine.

All I can say is I wish I would have had a mobile device when I was in school  It would have helped so much, especially with a roommate who didn't like to give me messages when she answered the phone.  A phone is an all purpose device from scheduling, preserving memories, games, connecting with high school friends, and more.


  1. Oh, wow! I always preferred green, even blue, over red digital numbers!

  2. This was fun to read through. Yes, so much has changed since us Gen X'ers were in college. The speed of technology has changed so much. I too remember VHS, computer labs, and having to wait in line to register for a class. Those were the days!