The students of the year 2021 will surely continue spending their year in virtual classrooms. It would be an understatement to say that the college experience has changed dramatically during the pandemic.
However unprecedented this shift to the new normal is, though, the student life over the last 50 or 100 years transformed in more ways anyone could have imagined.
But how exactly did students’ lives 50 or 70 years ago differ from today’s? Let’s take a quick look at the key 7 distinctions between going to a college or university in the past and now.
1. No Internet to Offer a Wealth of Information
This one thing – the invention of the world wide web – has made studying at college a completely different experience.
Before the internet era, students had to spend hours hauled at the library surrounded by books taking notes. There was no Wikipedia or Google accessible from the comfort of your home: the best a learner could hope for was getting some books to go.
And good luck finding an essay writing service as easily as in a few clicks. There were a handful of enterprising students offering their help, but their main marketing channel was the word of mouth. So, their potential clients had to be acquainted with someone who knew about their services.
2. Student Bags Were Heavier
Speaking of books. All textbooks for the whole academic year can be stored on a smartphone or laptop now. But back in the day, there were no digital books and no portable devices to access them from anywhere at any time.
Instead, students carried all the textbooks needed for the day with them – and that made the weight on their backs a lot heavier.
3. Assignments Had to Be Handwritten or Typed on a Typewriter
A tech-savvy person can type around 40 words per minute on average, with professionals like college application essay writers scoring 50-60 wpm. Most contemporary students have used a computer for most of their life, they easily fall under the ‘tech-savvy’ category.
In the middle of the 20th century, students had to use a typewriter instead – or write their homework by hand. And there was no Ctrl + Z shortcut they could use to fix a typo or rewrite a sentence.
Cheating was also a lot different without smartphones and other devices connected to the internet. The not-so-honest students had to write the tiny notes to cheat off by hand.
4. Tuition Fees Were Lower
In the U.S. and other developed countries, higher education has become two to three times more expensive over the past 50 years. Th is is why, these days, getting a student loan and a part-time job to pay it off is the default option for future students.
When their parents needed to pay for college, they could easily finance their studies with a part-time or summer job flipping burgers and some savings from their parents. So, they had more time for extracurricular activities, socializing, and partying.
5. Higher Education Automatically Equaled a Well-Paying Job
The evolution of higher education over the past 50-70 years has diminished the value of college and university degrees. Now that they are demanded everywhere, graduates need to find other strengths to add to their resume in order to secure a prestigious job.
Back in the day, a Bachelor’s degree opened doors to more high-paying jobs by default. A college graduate in the 1950s or 1960s could be sure that they would get a significant competitive advantage when looking for a job. And they knew they would earn 50% to 100% more than their counterparts with high school diplomas.
6. Plagiarizing Could Easily Go Unnoticed
This is another difference that contemporary students are probably unhappy about. True, preparing for essay writing was harder without the internet. On the other hand, there was no way for teachers to tell whether the text was plagiarized if they have never seen the original source.
Nowadays, most universities and colleges use automated software to detect plagiarism. This software uses deep search to scan the texts and find the copy-and-pasted sentences and paragraphs. So, there is no way plagiarism can remain unnoticed.
7. Colleges & Universities Weren’t as Diverse as Now
Although it sounds blunt, it is true. In the 1950s, most students were white and male, with a few exceptions for black-only universities and degrees in the stereotypically ‘female’ fields.
If a woman wanted to become a lawyer – like late Ruth Bader Ginsburg – she would have to prove herself ‘worthy’ to be a student of a top university again and again. The same goes for other prestigious degrees in such fields as engineering, physics and chemistry, and healthcare.
For those who are quick to complain about today’s e-learning, taking this walk down the memory lane is a good reminder to count their blessings. After all, the students of the 21st century:
- have all of humanity’s knowledge just a few clicks away, available anywhere at any time;
- are free to choose whichever degree they want to pursue, regardless of their gender or the color of their skin;
- can keep up with their studies in the comfort of their home even amidst a pandemic.
Is that not enough to celebrate how much the student life has changed?