Friday, April 23, 2010

The Friday Five

Wednesday was spent at WPI, the college The Young One will be attending this Fall. A lot has changed since I was in college 37 years ago.

1. Though college was expensive, tuition wasn't out of the price range for my parents. Tuition only cost an arm instead of an arm, a leg, and a first born. My parents weren't required to divulge their tax reports.

2.  My term papers were typed on an electric Smith Corona type writer. If I needed a copy of this paper, I inserted a sheet of carbon paper between the type writer paper. Typing mistakes were carefully erased with a pink pencil eraser with a small brush on the end. Corrections were also carefully made to the carbon copy. A relatively new product, Wite Out Correction fluid was also available. If you needed to insert another sentence or paragraph, you had to retype your entire paper. Research for papers was started in the library using a card catalog: small drawers with neatly printed or typed index cards that would direct you to the book in the library stacks. Special collections items were requested in writing and given to the librarian. If the library didn't have the book you needed, you went to another library to look for it.

3. I only needed to budget $500 to $700 for books for my entire 4 years at college. The most expensive books were $25.00 hard cover. I had to buy my books at the college book store. I could buy used books from students who had already taken the class, if they were selling their books, and if the professor was using the same edition.

4. Correspondence with a professor after office hours was done by leaving a typed or hand-written note in his/her mailbox or with the department secretary. A first class stamp cost 8 cents. Telephone calls from a pay telephone were 10 cents for a 3 minute local call. Long distance calls were 25 cents for 3 minutes. Telephones were tethered to a wall at home or office and in a telephone booth for a pay telephone. Push to talk was called a Walkie-Talkie and used only by the military.

5. As a commuting student, I could eat meals in the dining hall, but had to pay cash. If you needed to buy something, you paid with cash or you wrote out a check. If you needed cash, you went to the bank, during bank business hours (usually Monday to Friday from 9 am to 3 pm. Some banks might stay open late one day usually Thursday or Friday when people got paid. The late banking hours would be 9a to 4:30p or if you were lucky 5pm.. Banks might be open until noon on Sat.) For cash you filled out a withdrawal slip or wrote a check out payable to cash or yourself and took the slip or check to the teller. If the withdrawal was from a savings account, you handed the teller your savings account passbook. S/he would type the amount in your passbook.

How were things different when you went to college?


  1. Ahh, the good old days of the typewriter. I was SO excited during my 2nd year of college when I got one that had a tiny screen to see about 5 lines of text and I could edit before I hit print. That was 20 years ago. Mimeographs were still in use!

  2. I loved the smell of mimeographs!

  3. The students seem ridiculously young to be in college now, but when I was that age I thought I was a grown up???

  4. LOL Too true, Erica. And some of the college professors look like they are 12 yrs old too!

  5. I had never driven on the interstate until I got in the car and headed to college. I'm just glad I made it there alive.

  6. tee hee hee... Just before my graduation, we were sitting around the table enjoying the Sunday paper. My dad said, "have you thought about what you want for graduation?" I replied. "I suppose I need a typewriter." (My mom was barely aware of our conversation to this point.) My dad then opened an ad to show me at this point. "I was thinking we might buy you a computer instead." This was HUGE at the time. My mom dropped both her paper and her jaw. It was obvious they hadn't discussed this expense. Her eyes were wide. Luckily I saved her. "OMG, DAD! No one brings a COMPUTER to college!"

    I WAS SUCH AN IDIOT! I LIVED in the computer lab! Although they did get me a word processing, very nice typewriter with full memory.

    To my defense, at that time, no one did have computers in the dorms.