Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gen-1 House: Nanny State

I read this article in Inside Higher Ed on this special housing for first generation college students at the University of Cincinnati and, well, it seems a little like life control. The housing for first gen students comes complete with a strict guest policy, a curfew, and is designated an "alcohol-free" zone.

Now, I don't know how strictly these policies are enforced -- most colleges are "alcohol-free" for freshman housing because, well, it's technically illegal for people under 21 to consume alcohol (I think the age should be lowered to 18, but that's an issue for another day). The thing is, among the first generation college students I knew from my college days, this seems like a bad way to try to retain first gen students.

While it may be true that studies show that first gen students benefit from more attention, I tend to think that means more in the way of academic counseling, tutoring, and instructor attention than it means trying to enforce strict social rules on these students' personal lives. If anything, by putting such strict rules on their personal lives, they may find college patronizing and be more likely to drop out. It's not surprising that 18-year-olds might want to be treated like adults, so perhaps we shouldn't enforce such rigid rules.

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