The Big Picture of College

GUTFELD: Colleges are brain-free zones; I’m from Michigan

What is the value of being a college student? To some it’s a matter of course. “It was a requirement for me to go to this college or that,” says Ann Marie Luth, a 17-year-old student and junior at a small northwestern Michigan school.

For others, it’s just a convenient way to get an education rather than the serious education they would have received if they were working or doing a trade or having their graduate degrees, a college degree, or a degree from a business school. But for others, what’s more important is the feeling of being a person. “It’s just like being free,” says Brian J. Fudge, a 20-year-old student and sophomore at a southeastern Michigan school.

As students grow up in a society that expects them to achieve college degrees, the feeling, at least for some, becomes a constant. It is what Fudge calls the “big picture” of life. That means they see college not so much as a stepping stone to the next step on their career ladder, but as the “big prize.” Fudge can think of the moment when he first understood this. When he was a freshman at Michigan State University on the campus’ beautiful Lake Huron shore, he was walking with his grandfather along the winding beach with nothing but a backpack and a bottle of water between them. A fishing pier just past the campus was the last part of the beach to have any beach in the winter. They didn’t have an umbrella to keep them from getting wet, and the wind, cold and blowing cold, was whistling in their ears.

But that day they saw the waves. And on his grandfather’s shore he saw, too, the school. “I’ve always wanted to go somewhere where there are trees and a creek,” he says, and that’s Michigan, and Michigan State, and a little of all the other universities on campus and off.

That’s the big picture. But there’s also the “in-between” of life. Not everyone is destined for a life of college and work. But even with a limited amount of time to get through the school years and life, the feeling is there. “You can’t deny that it’s there,” Fudge says. “It’s like, if you’re good enough to be here and everything

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