Ways Back to College Has Changed Since the 80s

September means many things to many people.

For football fans, it’s the beginning of how they will shape their lives for the next five months as the NFL gets its season underway.

For the parents of youngsters, it’s a small sigh of relief as school once again resumes, bringing more of a set schedule to their children and more peace to the household.

Here at the Jersey Shore, it means the fist-pumping, club-going crowds that unfortunately represent this scenic stretch of coastline return to points north, a sort of migration carried out under the power of Escalades and new Camaros.

Ways Back to School Has ChangedAnd for a good percentage of those who graduated high school in the spring, it means heading off to college and entering one of the most important phases of a young adult’s life. While nearly all colleges and universities are physically the same as they were in the ‘80s and ‘90s, there are some pretty significant differences in how incoming freshmen from decades past and those who are a part of the class of 2016 settle in to campus life.

Here is a look at the differences between heading off to college in the age of Facebook and text-speak  and going off to college in the awesome ‘80s.

Keep It Light

In the ‘80s, things were bigger. Hair was bigger (although it still is at the Jersey Shore). Microwaves were bigger. TV’s were bigger. And PCs were bigger and something your girlfriend’s nerdy older brother had in his bedroom (along with Dungeons & Dragons posters). Moving into your dorm room in the ‘80s required some heavy lifting, as it seems electronics of the ‘80s defied logic and physics (how could a black-and-white TV with a 13-inch screen require three people to carry it?)

Flat-screen TVs of today can be carried under one arm while keeping your other hand free to take video of your first steps on campus while simultaneously checking out your new roommate’s Facebook photos.

Make a Connection

Keeping in touch with family back home and friends now scattered throughout the country once required breaking out pen and paper and finding a stamp (a “stamp” is something issued by the government that allowed you to send something hundreds, even thousands, of miles away for just pennies) and mailing a letter.

Or if you really wanted to summon the wrath of your parents, who just shelled out $1,500 for your first year of university schooling (yes, things were cheaper in the ‘80s), you’d dial up your buddy at UNLV, talk on a land line for 20 minutes, and rack up a $75 phone bill (yes, some things were more expensive in the ‘80s).

Today, there really is no disconnect. Communicating is for the most part cheaper, and something you can do instantaneously. Perfect for requesting more Top Ramen or a regional delicacy from home, such as pork roll. Pork roll is a Jersey thing, often traded like a precious metal on faraway campuses.

Book Smart, Pound Foolish

Doing research and writing papers used to require a bit more heavy lifting, from the 42-pound word processor used to churn out Psych 101 papers to the 8-inch-thick book on Chaucer checked out from your school’s library.

Of course, students today still use books and libraries, but there is a growing reliance on, and acceptance of, using tablet computers for everything from note-taking to conducting research to actually replacing college textbooks.

Fashion-Forward

One would like to say the fashion of the ‘80s remains just where it belongs – 30 years in the past and seen only in dog-eared photographs in some forgotten box in the attic. But what’s old is new again, and from neon sunglasses to polos with the collar raised, elements of the ‘80s are alive and well at today’s institutions of higher learning.

Let’s just hope these don’t make a comeback.

Fast facts from August 1986 and August 2012

Weekend Box Office:

1986: Stand By Me, Top Gun

2012: The Expendables 2, The Bourne Legacy

Top of the Charts:

1986: Madonna, “True Blue”; Top Gun Soundtrack

2012: Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Getting Back Together”; Flo Rida, “Whistle”

Car of Choice:

1986: Chevrolet Celebrity; Ford Escort

2012: Ford F-Series truck; Toyota Camry

Cost of Annual Tuition, Private, Non-Profit Four-Year School:

1986: $10,000

2012: $35,000