Nov 082007
Authors: Dr. John Straayer

It is not uncommon for persons in the 18- to 25-year-old age group to endure occasional pain and suffering from conditions caused by anxiety triggered by globalization, heavy traffic, climate change, cell phone malfunction, romantic encounters gone bad and, especially, commencementitis and career confusion.

In certain instances these symptoms may appear later in life as well.

But relief is now available from these seemingly chronic and potentially debilitating conditions. It is called academia, and extensive clinical studies at many universities have proven that academia, taken over periods of ranging from four to eight years, can provide relief and, in many cases, a relatively anxiety-free, prosperous and happy future.

Some studies have shown that when taken with proper care and doctor’s instructions, academia can produce benefits for an individual’s family members, too.

But do not take academia without a doctor’s advice. Medical doctors can sometimes provide useful information, but doctors of philosophy are generally better sources.

With all its benefits, academia can in some instances produce side effects.

These may include accelerating tuition rates and associated heavy student loan debt, classes in excess of 200 people, courses taught by teachers who disappear within days of course completion and teaching assistants who sat next to you in class last year but now grade your papers.

Sometimes academia leads to exposure to young professors who find their professional futures unrelated to instruction.

Academia may be associated with loveable coaches but dreadful teams, lousy seats in Moby, purging of Fum’s “fight song,” new practice facilities but old classrooms, parking tickets and high book prices.

Additional side effects may include assessment of fees and taxes to support governing board goal stretching, community and alumni entertainment, business investment and administration enlargement.

Taken as directed, however, academia can improve long-term personal, family and even community well-being.

Long run benefits may include expanded personal income, robust economies, artistic and literary sensitivity and civic-mindedness.

But academia should not be mixed with sports bars, excessive alcohol or credit card use, frequent class absences, substitution of automated spelling and grammar machines for personal editing, preference for web-sites over libraries or computer games in lieu of class notes, or be associated with rude and untimely entrance or exit from classes.

Academia should not be combined with procrastination.

Over Thanksgiving, tell your parents and other family members about academia. Your neighbors might like to know about it as well.

John Straayer is a professor of political science. His column appears occasionally in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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