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March 02, 1984 - Image 19

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-03-02
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MY TURN OnCampus
You Can Go Home Again
Bernard Gotfryd-NEWSWEEK






MARCH 1984

You can't go home again." That's what
they say. Yet after a postgraduation
summer bumming around Europe, I
woke up one night having no idea where I
was, slowly realizing as my eyes focused that
I was back in the bedroom of my childhood.
Unemployed. Undecided. Home.
While comforted by the knowledge that
many other recent grads find themselves
similarly stranded, I can't help feeling a bit
surprised, if not depressed, at the prospects.
Our generation seems the undeserving vic-
tim of many long-fermenting trends-baby
boom, education glut and technology trans-
fer. Once upon a time, America valued fam-
ily ties and working toward some long-
range goal. Now, as a smug ad for Fortune
magazine claims, "People are making it
bigger, younger."
We can go anywhere, be anything we can
find. The question is, what? As early as
sophomore year, I had begun to hear a
nagging "what?" from both outside and in.
Although science and computer majors
may be able to readily translate their skills
into immediate jobs, the liberally arted have
a flustering number of options, all tenuous.
After having an argument about Karl
Marx with a New York Bowery bum, I
began to think that just about everyone
these days has a bachelor's degree. The
career decision is getting pushed farther and
farther back. The three godfathers of grad
schools-law; medicine and business-tell
you what to study, what you'll be when
you're done. It's a lot easier explaining to
Aunt Clara that you're studying invest-
ments than mumbling something about
finding yourself.
I foolishly wasted my senior year writing
a thesis, going to movies and hanging out
with friends, when I obviously should have
been making contacts and jetting around for
interviews. At graduation, knowing only
that my personal "what" was writing, I
moved my stuff back home. I was surprised
to discover that about 10 percent of my
high-school class had done the same. Yet
when I tell family and friends that I'm un-
employed, their reactions range from shock
to prefab smiles of reassurance. "Well," one
buddy finally granted, "you have a year to
kick around." A year?
I had tried to get excited about a cookie-
cutout career. I really did. One cold winter

night during my senior year, some friends
and I went to our college's audio-visual
center, which houses recruiting videotapes
from various businesses. We sat watching as
recent graduates tried to describe what they
did at their bank jobs. They looked like pod-
people from "Invasion of the Body Snatch-
ers": emotionless and secure. One kept us-
ing the word "force"-he enjoyed how the
job forced him into situations. My friends
and I walked out into the snow subdued,
vowing never to get caught up like that, on
an unstoppable treadmill chasing someone
else's values.
Yet defining your own values in today's
input-laden world does not exactly happen
overnight. Some of my classmates, unsure
It seems artificial
to require a
career decision
merely because
you've reached 21.
of the world that lay beyond the campus,
settled for whatever they could get, in fields
or organizations they didn't care about. But
it seems artificial to require a career deci-
sion merely because you've reached 21.
My parents' generation emerged from
college eager to contribute to an expanding
economy. The next half generation rebelled
against this and attempted to forge its own
territory. We then grew up in the shadow of
the iconoclastic and free-spirited '60s, only
to witness its most compelling voices either
shot down or mellowed out. Who did Amer-
ica's idols used to be? Athletes, movie stars
and politicians. But while we went through
adolescence the nation went through mer-
cenary free-agentry in sports and multimil-
lion-dollar fiascos in the movies. We grew
up in the age of Vietnam and Watergate and
learned the true meaning of the phrase
"Anybody can become president."
What to do? Well, I went home to mull
this whole spectacle over. I help Mom cook,
walk the dog, ruminate over beers with old
friends and lose myself in museums and
movies. Some things take more adjustment

than others, like inviting a date back to "my
place" and having to introduce her to my
parents. Of course, I am fortunate. Not ev-
erybody has a family they can return to; not
every family can afford to feed and shelter a
previously departed dependent. But other
ways to stay afloat financially-for in-
stance, driving a cabto pay the rent-should
not be discounted. For income, I have
worked part time at a local farm and as near-
slave labor on a cheap horror film. Neither
solidified a life plan, but both were more real
than the fantasy world called college, which
had allowed me to dabble and dawdle.
For the first time in my 22 years, I have
no deadlines or other demands over-
hanging. Discovering my own pace
and niche has been a job in itself. I keep
encountering others like myself, who are
seeking careers in acting, writing, design-
ing-or are simply not sure yet.
Many of my employed and enrolled
friends are already mumbling dissatisfac-
tion. Some have already revamped their
resumes and begun mass-mailing all over
again. Others, feeling underutilized or over-
ly malaised, write screenplays or short sto-
ries to keep sane.
I think I first expected the world to ap-
plaud and reward my sweat-earned diplo-
ma. Then I searched through the classifieds
for an entrepreneur starting a high-paying
publication aimed at my generation. I'm
only now realizing the value of temporarily
stepping out of line, finally beginning the
arduous process of try-and-err that will help
me better myselfand, perhaps, this mess of a
world. It took the time and the distance that
home provided to pry this out of me.
Others may already have transcended the
"greasy kid stuff" of existential doubts. But
the rest ofus shouldn't feel hopeless if we are
confused. We're not scrubs. We're merely
going at our own pace, checking things out
as we couldn't or didn't know we should in
school. If we resist the nervous urge to allow
others to choose for us and instead follow
our hearts, we may find a chunk of the inner
peace that seems to elude so much of the
adult world. You can go home again-if
you have faith in yourself.
David Handelman is a writer who gradu-
ated from Harvard in 1983.

[5C O~ssICf
0 A,,hss, E s§( nss o
The w'ashington Post Cornp r
Katharine Gra/am, Chairman ofrhe Bourd/
Richard D. Simmons, President
Richard M .Smith
Kenneth Auchincloss
Jerrold K. Fotlick
ART DIRECTOR: Robert J. George
STAFF WRITERS: Bll Barosl, Ron Givens.
STAFF REPORTER: Cynthia . Pigott.
PHOTO Jhn Whela, .KI,'McIella, AmeriJ.Cako
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Jett I. C'3. op d, Lucy ars d,
JamesC C ones, Michael Reese, raecL . Robis"".
Nadine Jseph. Lori Roenberk, Betsy Rubiner.
CAMPUS CORRESPONDENTS: American University: JIuia
Reed. Ball State: Donald Yaeger. California (Berkeley): Mar,
garet Minelach. Colby: CaroEk Isnhcrg. Colorado College:
o S Cih.Colordo:e iCle ns.Columbia:uis
Smith. Drake: Mered h Woodsard. Duke Larry Kaplow. Jen
Sher.Florida: lan Jhnso, JayIMain. sHarvard:MargoIl.r
,,s rera ,, rw.MoniqueSuivan. Houston: intBrook-
oser.Howard: Joseph Perkins.l linois: Ira Kici nberg. Indiana:
5Stw Sndes. Johns Hopkins: 0Doree'sMoran. Kent5uky:An-
*svOppsss UCLA: 1Lc dhcrg Maryland: 1y5 atly
MIT: David Grt. Massachusetts (Amherst): Paul BaskIn.
.4 Michigan:B Iarhara Msl,. Michigan State: Joe Melk. Mills
College: Cynthia Conway. Minnesota: Peter Kizilos. North
Carolina (Chapel Hill): Sonja Peyton. Northwestern: Leigh
Ann Winick. Notre Dame:Boh I Vonderhile. Ohio State: AI
SavitskyC Ok'ahoma: Chris Brwile\ Pennsylvania: Debra
Friss. Pomona: Diane Gaigan. Princeton: George Van l Hoo
'is.'SC:Mark',"Cistph lton.Souhern Meth-
odist: Mark Millers. FranC SolI,,.Stanford: XWiliam ,,s 111,I
Tina Eswy. Swarthmore: Michael Radiloff. Texas (Austin):
isa"""""" Jon"Shwatz,"la""nStr"mherger Texas A &M:
Joh"Wagner. Trinity (Texas): Corge Jackson. Vanderbilt: Rik
Danielson. Vassar: Erik Godchau. Virginia: Marina Sarris
WiscoC"in(M aionNancy.s Westminster(Missouri):
Jams GaCrneTOr. YaX:ss XWllc.
COVER: Robert V. Engle Ron Meyerson.
LIBRARY: BetsySzller.
ARTRseannl"" ""e, Dan Kubit. Ma'ta Norman, Richard

High-Tech Payoffs for Everyone
Now that the future is almost here, a lot
of people don't know what to make of it.
In its cover package, NEWSWEEK ON
CAMPUs offers some comfort to the tech-
nophobes among us: high tech should pay
off in new job opportunities for both tech-
nical and nontechnical types by the 1990s.
With machines running more of the
working world, thinking humans who can
communicate should be at a premium. A
companion story discusses gerontology, a
nontechnical specialty that will grow in
importance as the elderly population in-
creases. Another piece reports how pro-

tessional careers have lost some of their
luster because of overpopularity. The final
story discusses how and when college
placement offices can help students secure
their piece of the future. (Cover illustra-
tion by Arnold Roth.) Page 4

L 'T Campaign '84: Practical Politicking
Although the presidential race is now in high gear, many
students remain unmoved. A significant minority, how-
ever, is taking to the campaign trail. This year's volun-
teer tends to be more practical than idealistic, looking for
resum6 credits and connections as well as the best candi-
date or cause. But students are willing to pay a price to
learn-from stuffing envelopes in a barren office to
trudging home to home in the snows of New Hampshire
and Iowa. And some are proving that they can wield
considerable political clout. Page 20
A Congregation of College Hangouts
The cuisine may be oleaginous and the decor late Beer
Hall. But students will still cherish their college hang-
outs long after they become alumni and other memories
have faded. A hangout, after all, is where waitresses
and bartenders dish outtcomfort as well as cottage fries,
where a person can sulk or circulate at will. NEWS-
WEEK ON CAMPUS correspondents fondly describe
several of the longest-standing local gathering spots,
ranging from a down-to-earth diner in Virginia to a
former boot camp in California. Page 26
New Tactics to Overcome Dyslexia
The learning disorder dyslexia, which causes victims
to confuse words and letters, afflicts an estimated
25 million Americans. But if dyslexia is not uncommon,
it is uncommonly frustrating for many students, who
must master texts and pass exams despite their handi-
cap-and despite occasionally unsympathetic profes-
sors. More institutions, however, are beginning to recog-
nize the problem; they are organizing schedules and
programs to help dyslexics overcome the disability and
realize their capabilities. Page 31

COPY: George Gaal. Kay Etrzler, Archer Specrs.
MAKEUP: Marlin Burke, Cathie A. Ruggiero. Richard A.
PO T OOPSTO:Dma oRch ospngarra.
OPERATIONS:,DIrrell,.IAds, Rebeccas . Pratt.,
Mark M. Edmiston, Presidena
MANUFACTURING: Providenlia DiasT, Tony Gordon, Frank
Ho"la","ria nIae, Vic c A rees A l ysbylkosssk


For years, New Music languished at the A memorial at Kent State; clove smoking at What happens when youhave a hard-earned
fringe of American pop music; last year, it Oklahoma; Caltech's Rose Bowl score; the college degree but no idea in the world what
leaped into the mainstream. Jim Sullivan biggest public-affairs radio program; a you want to do with it? You go home again.
explains what New Music wants to be and health dorm at Western Michigan; the mul- David Handelman, a 1983 graduate, de-
how it reached the big time. Page 24 tipurpose college bookstore. Page 17 scribes his experiences. Page32
S1984 NlwSw:K. Inc., 444 Madk on Avsne, N\w York. N.Y. 10022. All rights reserved.



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