College freshmen tend to celebrate “getting in,” but soon feel uncertain about the path that lies ahead. During campus orientation, they are reminded that being a college student is nothing to be afraid of, or that life on campus is not only about getting a degree but also about the social experience. However, the underlying assumption, drawn from the lore, is that a college degree holds power. Campus life is complete without the humorous stories and the sexual or social symbolism underlying campus humor. This chapter describes years on campus as a distinctly situated time of life, the academic culture in campuses, the students’ desire to be accepted both by the university and socially within campus life, and campus tradition. It also examines the historical context of contradictory political and economic systems in higher education in the United States and considers how scholars view the cultural life of college students.
Keywords: freshmen, orientation, campus life, campus humor, academic culture, campus tradition, higher education, United States, cultural life, college students