It’s a common conception that college changes people. On several levels, this appears to be the truth. The common idea held by many, particularly right-leaning parents, is that there is a great number of crazy communist professors subliminally brainwashing there once wholesome conservative children, turning them into drug-using communist radicals. Right-wing social and religious communities can surely provide plenty of anecdotal evidence to support this claim. Even my own parents blamed my shift in political persuasion from right to left as the result of professorial influence. While the information I was exposed to definitely impacted my change in understanding, that change would have occurred whether my professor belittled Glenn Beck (which many understandably do, that guy just asks for it) or put down Obamacare. It is the exposure to the world that influences this political shift in many young people. That, and the irresistible desire to rebel against one’s parent’s beliefs. While I admit that being in the “real world” for some time has changed my view of the world (I would consider myself pretty moderate), academia is not the sole cause or scapegoat, and it should not be treated as such.
The Washington Post published an interesting article yesterday discussing this same issue and presents some fascinating data supporting the false nature of this common misconception. If you’re like me and you enjoy refreshing style in journalism, then the opening paragraph of this article will surely make you smile:
Do red-blooded, hard-working Americans pay thousands of dollars each year to send their children to college, only to have those kids turned into pot-smoking Obamacare-lovers by a pack of communist hippies? This stereotype – professors as brainwashing left-wing ideologues – has dogged academia at least since the Vietnam War era. But our nation’s vilified professoriate isn’t composed of just Marxists and Whole Foods shoppers. Let’s upend five popular misconceptions about the people educating the next generation.
The article in its entirety can be found here.