While noting that individual and institutional variables preclude discussion of the American student body as a monolithic entity, Horowitz argues that American students have historically fallen into three groups: college men (and eventually women), outsiders, and rebels. For college men and women, undergraduate life largely means social activities, including the establishment of future business connections, performed within a homogeneous, regimented, and reassuring environment. Outsiders, in contrast, view the university not as a playground but as a privileged educational experience crucial to their future economic and social advancement. These two groups have been joined by rebels, who reject the first two models, seeking instead to find both personal satisfaction and meaningful interaction with the non-university world. Economic realities, Horowitz suggests, have created a group she calls the “New Outsiders,” who blend characteristics of the first two groups and now outnumber any other campus subculture.
A work designed to answer the author’s own questions about how contemporary students have come to be as they are, CAMPUS LIFE focuses on historical developments rather than contemporary events (it does not, for example, address the effect of AIDS on campus life). Horowitz occasionally digresses from her loosely thematic presentation to develop short biographies of the college experience of such illustrious men as Teddy Roosevelt and Thomas Wolfe. She unfortunately refers repeatedly to Indiana University as the University of Indiana. Yet despite weaknesses of selection and organization, CAMPUS LIFE is an indispensable book for those with a professional interest in understanding American academic, political, and business life.