Just Another College Stereotype

Nabeela Hanif

Professor Alvarez

English 110

31 March 2012

Just Another College Stereotype


College in American Culture

Throughout a student’s career in school, college is always set to be the final destination of grades one to twelve. Your parents and teachers guide you in the college bound path and believe that it is the next best step for you to take in life. “College will make you successful” is what students often hear but what if college is just a big rip off out to get your money and leave you unsuccessful in your career choice. With the recent financial bubble America has faced in 2008, the price of college still seems to plummet while students’ pockets don’t seem to grow any deeper. I’ve noticed a representation throughout the American culture that students should attend a prestigious university and take on the loans but today there are thousands of college graduates that pose the sanction of college being a big rip off. As the video depicts, “College student graduates earn a million more on average than those without a degree.” If this is the ultimate slogan colleges direct to potential students, then their promise seems prosperous for any high school graduate wanting to make big money in their profession one day. A college degree shouldn’t represent how successful you are going to be but in the American portrayal of college, it sure is held with much reverence like a golden ticket to triumph.

In this essay, I will argue that even though there are such different representations of college, the students are still reflected in the same way throughout them all. No matter what part of the country you look into the stereotypes exist in each institution on so many different scales. Some students will always agree that college is a rip off because of the experience they endure. Likewise, some students will continue to hook up because they enjoy it and it gives them satisfaction with others. No matter how people criticize these students, they are represented in so many colleges and universities across America. Just as the college athletes who are stereotyped into being jocks. They can be the nicest set of people, yet they are branded as the tough guys. College stereotypes are what make up the American representation of institutions.


                         College Just Wants Your Money


Students are told the best way to succeed is to “invest in yourself by getting a college degree” (College is a Ripoff). But how much good does a degree hold today? According to Rachel Persille , a graduate from Rivier College, she had to move back in with her parents after graduating from college because she couldn’t afford her overhead $84,000 debt she was in. She spent three years looking for a job in her human development profession and unfortunately was left with nothing. Instead,  Rachel had to settle for a desk job that paid her $11.50 and hour that she claims she could have done straight out of high school. This young woman proclaims to 20/20’s spokesman, John Stosell, that if she were to do it over again she would choose to go to beauty school that would’ve costed her a fortune less and today left her with a stable income. This story is one of thousands that college graduates are facing where college did not work out in their favor. I do not believe that the students are the ones to be blamed for this because they were just going ahead with a four year plan that promised them success at the finish line. These students are coming out of the top colleges with their credentials and are working close to minimum wage because the jobs they are qualified for are not in demand in the present era.



The video points out that, “Students are misinformed about where college really takes you. A college degree is the new high school diploma.” I believe college is over represented as success for the millions of students dreaming of achieving fortune along their college journey. What about the students that cannot handle the pressure of school work in high school and have a difficulty with that level of schooling? The 20/20 video pronounced that, “The students in the bottom forty percent of high school now won’t even be able to graduate college in eight and a half years.” This presumptive measure just ruled out a major portion of students unsuccessful, even though these are the same students colleges appeal to to attend their institutions. College is proven here to be a rip off for those eligible of making it in college and the ones who may never graduate with that college degree in hand.  I think a savvy student can make a decision for him/herself in establishing whether college is the road for them to take or not. There are a plethora of options that students can preempt to and be successful for themselves with the knowledge and skills they already obtain. College isn’t the only alternative to living a pleasing life. The video mentions the myriad technical schools, community colleges, and apprenticeships available for any individual willing to subjugate themselves into a different realm than the traditional college path. A plumber can go to a technical school and earn $48,000 annually, more than the average American makes, and yet is still looked down upon because it entails a blue collar job. The prestige may not be held in the title for such a profession but not being in a bundle of debt and maintaining a stable paycheck sure does make up for that trivial loss. And yet, there are millions of students across America opting for the four year college plan with no stable security for the future. There must be some driving force behind the portrayal of colleges and universities that keep the enrollment high enough for these colleges’ success.

Let’s Hook Up in College


Through out college campuses across America, there is a new trend quickly gaining popularity. “Whatever, Whoever, Whenever,” are what college students crave when finding a partner to have fun with. Gone are the days when guys buy girls flowers and try to win them over with a romantic date; it has now transcended into something much more informal. Hooking up is said to be “the most popular type of relationship across colleges right now for one too many reasons” (Exploring College Culture: Hooking Up). The term, hooking up, can be interpreted as various activities from kissing all the way to sexual intercourse, depending on who’s giving the definition. But more substantially the word can be defined as “casual sexual contact with another person.” College students consider this method fun and easy without having to deal with much responsibility. It’s a quick way to be satisfied and not have any strings attached.



At the ages of eighteen through twenty-one, college kids really want to have the time of their lives and hooking up with one another modifies right into that category as top priority. Father Martensen, priest of Ithaca College, pointed out that, “Young people are physically maturing at a younger age than years before.” This would explain the sudden urge for such explicit relationships in young college students who want to experience everything faster and earlier these days. College students put off dealing with serious relationships in this trend and are able to hide their true feelings with the person they share consensual contact with. College students are also claiming that, “No one has time for relationships with busy college schedules” to get across having so many partners for such short periods of time. There is a constant pressure college students face from their peers to engage in hooking up as it is seen as the ‘in’ thing to do and also because they have the freedom of not being around parents and wanting to make their own rules. A major contributing factor to this trend deals with the fact that college student’s dorm rooms are revolved around a bed so the physical environment implicates a certain notion. The major stereotype of college parties and hooking up do go hand in hand with one another because parties create a loose ambiance for students to feel relaxed in. More than 80% of the time, alcohol is involved with these premeditated acts of hooking up and it is used as a likely excuse, “to blame it on the booze.” But what adds more to this fuel is the media itself these days. There are countless shows and movies that depict hooking up as the norm and this is what creates the atmosphere that is trending on college campuses everywhere. An additional stereotype that also plays a key role with engendering the hook ups are that guys can more easily get away with it more than girls. If a girl hooks ups with too many guys, she becomes degraded amongst her peers and is called promiscuous names such as ‘slut’ and ‘whore,’ while a guy is given eminence for being with umpteen girls. What isn’t taken into great account are the myriad diseases and unwanted pregnancies involved with these casual sexual encounters. Regardless of the consequences, this infatuation has become an integral part of college culture and is a definite trend that is here to stay. A large group of students that take part in this mania are the athletes that attend an institution and they are the trendsetters that everyone want to follow, or so they say.


Athletes in College


Colleges across America honor their sports teams thoroughly and the team players get utmost attention in this spotlight as well. A major college stereotype that exists in the big universities all the way to the community colleges are the fame and notoriety received by the athletes. Regardless of the sport, these students are often delineated as the cool ones and earn high rankings on the social spectrum of college life. These athletes represent the school on their backs and work hard to make their school’s name reputable. But such a stereotype was created to infatuate the athlete’s ego as one with too much pride. These athletes have a skill that hundreds others in their institution don’t hold and many other students tend to be apprehensive of them and only see their exterior region when really they have their school and their own reputation riding on their shoulders.



Student athletes are portrayed as the go getters of their school and hold a reputable prominence of attaining college fame. Out of the hundreds of students that make up a school, there are a handful of students that promulgate an athletic ability and play on their school’s team. They are often known as the ‘jocks’ of the school because of their physically in-shape physique and their jerseys that they strut around the campuses. Many students despise them but I believe it’s mostly due to the reality that they are envious of them. According to college athletes themselves, it is not that easy being on a sports team and is a very demanding task. It takes up their whole schedule and they have to commit to endless hours of practice and yet this stereotype has such negative feedback. These athletes learn respect on and off the field from the discipline of their sport and this is what takes them to the top of the student chain in popularity. This respect comes from their utmost endurance of carrying the school’s pride and making their alma mater honorable in becoming champs. Athletes spend timeless hours on training to perfect their skill to bring home a win so when it comes to partying, they instantly become the life of the party. These are the students that effervescently display school spirit on campus and never fail to make their institution look good amongst the eyes of its students. College guy athletes are known for getting all the girls and occupying the gym at all hours during the day. Many students feel threatened by their bold appearance and rather opt to stand back against them. Likewise, girl athletes are the ones strutting their great bodies getting all the guys they desire, hooking up or more. Athletes represent a tight bond that is depicted all throughout the school year, one that they “feel (they) will always have good friends no matter what” (Life as a College Athlete). Since college is a lot less like high school, this tightness is eminently shown on college campuses and gives other students a reason to be grudging over.


QC and Video Connections


Queens College is a City University of New York school that is filled with commuter students. There is no big university pep rallies or outrageous campus parties but rather thousands of kids trying to balance fully time school with a part time job. Indeed it is no daunting task, but it makes the campus rather lackluster around here. The students aren’t represented by an ounce of school spirit nor are they grouped off into large cliques. Hooking up happens at Queens but not on a scale where everyone is sharing partners and getting drunk at parties getting with anyone there. These cliche’s simply don’t happen here. College can never be seen as a big ripoff at Queens because the tuition is ridiculously low at $5,400 a year. It’s pocket change compared to the big universities and this school offers an average education for the price. If it’s a ‘bang for your buck’ there is no need to depict QC as not being up to par and a waste of money. When it comes to athletics at Queens College, many of the students don’t even know what sports teams they have here, have probably never been to a game, and have no idea who the infamous basketball players are. That tells a lot about QC and where we stand with sports…there is no school spirit on campus and sports are close to non existent on campus life. My ideal Queens College would have a variety of opportunities for school spirit to be shown and our blue and silver colors to be inherited more by the students. More campus events where the young college crowd can get involved would definitely alter our school appearance and pride. Hooking up at Queens doesn’t need to find it’s way on our grounds because there is enough PDA here than I can handle. Keeping your personal life should be kept to yourself and not shown on school property and gaining unwanted reputations. For the most part, I’m happy with the way QC operates things because after all, it is a commuter school. It’s up to the students to make the best of it themselves.


Regardless of what college institution you dwell in, there will always be existent stereotypes. They are not necessarily seen as good or bad but rather a way of grouping students into the same category with a sort of commonality. Students belong to stereotypes whether they even know it or not. I’ve chosen stereotypes that I feel heighten the college experience amongst different colleges and used such diversity in my three stereotypes to exhibit the ambiguity that exists between them. Whether it be hooking up to have fun, college being a big rip off, or the athletic makeup of the school being empowered, they all exist throughout colleges across America where students engage in these statuses.


Work Cited

“College is a Rip Off” 20/20. ABC. Los Angeles, CA,  Jan. 2009. Television.

Exploring College Culture: Hooking Up. YouTube, NYEly23, 2009. Web. 3 Apr 2012.

Life As A College Athlete. YouTube, athletemom, 2010. Web. 3 Apr 2012.

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  1. Nabeela, some great writing here. You are a talented writer, I hope you continue to take writing classes in the future. For this essay, I see some arguments forming, as well as some evidence. Do you see any ways one could apply the cooling-out function to any of these representations of college? Also, can you find any sports representations of Queens College? Maybe any star athletes? Are the male or female athletes better known on campus? Why?

    I like how you asked some critical questions about the first two videos about going to college and about the politics behind students’ choices about hooking up in college. The first one deals with social class, the second with gender/sex, and the last one, about sports, could deal–possibly–with race/ethnicity, as that always should come into questions about sports representations. You could also ask questions about the representations of race in hooking up and attending college or a trade school.

    In your next essay, you will look for examples of the cooling-out function happening at QC, and also continue on some of that writing you started in your conclusion here. You have some important ideas based on your experience as a QC student.

    I like the PIE paragraphs, they look great. The subtitles as well. Keep working with those, they are a great help when writing college essays.

    Also: remember that you can re-use any of the writing you’ve done on your blog for your last two essays. You have a lot of great material written already.

    For MLA revisions:
    –You have the form correct for TV, but you also need the place for location: see the Purdue OWL, “Broadcast Television or Radio Program” http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/09/

    –For the YouTube sits, “A Page on a Web Site” on the OWL says the uploader or producer of the YouTube video, for “Exploring College Culture: Hooking Up” needs to be included. At 9:20 these are Elizabeth Estrada, Meaghan Layden, Shane Hennigan, and Josh Stewart. I think you could include them or the uploader NYEly23. See http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/08/

    –You can leave the ABC News one, or you could use the the YouTube source example.

    –Add more about representations of student athletes in the media (especially during college sports seasons like basketball and football) and how this relates to Queens College. What is the reality for a commuter college student athlete? I think many of the athletes live in the campus dorm. Why might that experience be different from most QC students? Also I think not all athletes are on scholarships, so that might be significant.

    6.8 out of 7 possible points.

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