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Student and Teenage Life: Substance Abuse and Studies

September 5, 2006

I read this New York Times article on underage drinking in the western U.S. a few days back. Last night, on WYCC, one of my Chicago public television affiliates, there was a re-run of a documentary on students partying-studying habits. The origins of this lifestyle are covered well in Paul Fass’ The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920s (1979). The Fass book is a classic with regard to understanding the origins of modern, profligate undergraduate and teenage student lifestyles.

Why is this still news? Why are we still surprised and shocked by exposes on students’ substance abuse problems? The WYCC special also focused on how students play the ‘school game’ rather than engage ideas, or deepen their understanding. Is it because school is mandatory/compulsory? Would the current problems at the college level get worse if a bachelors became compulsory? I’m inclined to think so. – TL

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