Coming of Age in New Jersey: College and American Culture

By Michael Moffatt | Go to book overview
hopes of finding some way to straighten it out somehow) might have mitigated against anything like genuinely felt community among its undergraduates more than was the case elsewhere.With its unplanned suburbs melding seamlessly into one another, however, and its historically uncentered, county-dominated political system, the state of New Jersey had many of the same organizational properties as Rutgers did in the late twentieth century. Most Rutgers undergraduates were local kids who would grow up to be local adults. Whether Rutgers was entirely typical of all less-than-elite public universities in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s, it was unintentionally doing its democratic duty by its own undergraduate clients from the state of New Jersey. It was, to recall the undergraduate trope of "Rutgers as real world," getting its students ready for the culture and the society in which most of them would spend the rest of their lives.
Further Comments
1. Many of Allan Bloom's authoritative-sounding characterizations of contemporary undergraduates in The Closing of the American Mind, on the other hand, are based on the most unscholarly kinds of anecdote-as-data. For example:

A university teacher of liberal arts cannot help confronting special handicaps, a slight deformity of the spirit, in the students, ever more numerous, whose parents are divorced. I do not have the slightest doubt that they do as well as others in all kinds of specialized subjects, but I find they are not as open to serious study of philosophy and literature as some other students are ( Bloom 1987: 120).

Even the dimmest, most routinely trained specialist in sociology might wonder what Bloom's sample size for this astonishing generalization was, what his control was, how he knew the family status of all his students, and so on.

2. An undergraduate in residence at Rutgers in the mid-1980s could manage on a little over $6,000 a year, as opposed to $16,000 to $17,000 a year at the most expensive private colleges.

About 90 percent of the undergraduates at Rutgers College in the mid-1980s were from the state of New Jersey; most of them were from the northern half of the state, from mostly suburban home-

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Coming of Age in New Jersey: College and American Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Preface xv
  • One / Orientation 1
  • Further Comments 20
  • Two / "What College is Really Like" 25
  • Further Comments 62
  • Three / a Year on Hasbrouck Fourth 71
  • Further Comments 125
  • Four / Race and Individualism 141
  • Further Comments 168
  • Five / Sex 181
  • Further Comments 231
  • Six / Sex in College 247
  • Further Comments 266
  • Seven / the Life of the Mind 271
  • Further Comments 310
  • Appendix One on Method 327
  • Appendix Two on Typicality 331
  • Further Comments 336
  • References Cited 341
  • Index 347
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