Accessibility links

Breaking News

Student Union

Father Springsteen Advises Students During COVID

FILE - Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Nov. 4, 2019, in New York.
FILE - Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Nov. 4, 2019, in New York.

At the start an otherwise dreary academic year for many college freshmen because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Boston College -- a Jesuit Catholic university -- treated incoming freshmen to a pep talk from one of the biggest stars in American music.

“If you completed your assignment and read my book, you will know I got into rock ‘n’ roll for the sex, the drugs and the sex,” drawled Bruce Springsteen, winner of numerous awards, seller of a gazillion downloads, and the father of Boston College graduate Evan Springsteen, Class of 2012.

“Oh wait, that's the wrong speech. Let's start again.”

Springsteen, 70, delivered his remarks September 10 by livestream to the incoming class of freshmen, who, like millions of other among the Class of 2024, have not enjoyed the same initiations and orientations of most new freshmen. The COVID-19 pandemic has closed schools or limited the typical ways new students interact in person because of social distancing.

But the megastar quickly turned philosophical and fatherly, consoling them over their limitations and dubbing these post-GenZers the “coronial generation,” a play on the coronavirus.

“The life of the mind is a beautiful thing. Along with your spiritual life, it's the apotheosis of human experience,” he said. “You can waste it, you can half-ass your way through it, or you can absorb every minute of what you're experiencing, and come out on the other end: an individual of expanded vision, of intellectual vigor, of spiritual character and grace, fully prepared to meet the world, on its own terms.”

Despite mentioning a few times that he’d lapsed from formal religious views learned in eight years of Catholic school in central New Jersey, Springsteen often returned to mentions of faith and spirituality.

“My faith was something I thought I could walk away from after those eight formative years in Catholic school, but I was wrong. … My faith remained with me, informing my writing … incorporating biblical language. I consider myself primarily a spiritual songwriter,” he said. “I make music that ultimately wants to address the soul. I made my peace with my Catholic upbringing, for better or for worse. And I have had to nod to the fact that I wouldn't exactly be who I am without it.”

Freshman Danny Giunta of Massachusetts asked the mega-star how he avoided conformity in his youth and gained confidence as a fledgling artist.

“How did I maintain my confidence? Ah …” Springsteen pondered. “I am a rambling mess of towering insecurities, even to this day …”

But after a decade of performing in “bars, union halls, firehouses, fairs, weddings, high school dances [and] bar mitzvahs” -- before he signed his first recording contract that launched worldwide adoration and wealth -- he had learned and worked to gain confidence in his skills.

Money, which is a frequent theme in his work, “is great. But alone, it ain't gonna do it. Everybody wants to do well, but don't just do well, as they say, do good. Choose something that makes you happy and makes you want to get up and go to work in the morning and allows you to rest easy at night,” he said

When asked by BC student Heidi Yoon about the importance of friendship near the end of his 30-minute address, the singer-songwriter lit up.

“Imagine this: The people you're going to school with right now? Forty-five years later, you're working with those exact same people! Forty-five years later, those same people are still with you,” he said, laughing and shaking his head.

“You're gonna fight, you're gonna love, you're gonna argue, you're gonna hate this about the other guy, he's gonna hate this about you. But … we held the value of our friendship, higher than any of our personal grievances or disputes,” he said of the E Street band, assembled in 1972 and maintaining the same members for most of its duration.

Springsteen gave several minutes to encouraging his young viewers to participate in the upcoming presidential election, and their role in civic duty.

“Your country needs you: your vision, your energy and your love. Yes, your love,” he said. “Love your country, but never fail to be critical. When it comes to your country's living up to your and its ideals. Listen to the voices calling you from our founding documents and keep faith with them. And vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Only half of all Americans vote. It's a sin.”

Jesuit education is notable for its intellectual rigor, critical thinking and volunteerism. There are numerous Jesuit educational institutions around the world, with 27 universities in the U.S., including Boston College and College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, Georgetown University in Washington, Loyola University of Maryland, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Chicago, Gonzaga University in the state of Washington, and Spring Hill College in Alabama.

“You are already wisened by this experience,” Springsteen said about the COVID pandemic and resultant restrictions and limitations.

“So appreciate the underappreciated: sporting events, getting together with your friends, concerts. Remember those?” Springsteen said, whose concert tickets to stadium performances sell out in minutes. “We will soon look to you for answers for a safer and better world.”

See all News Updates of the Day

Tips for staying safe while studying in the US

FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2019 photo, Sgt. Jason Cowger, with Johns Hopkins University's Campus Safety and Security department, walks on the university's campus in Baltimore.
FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2019 photo, Sgt. Jason Cowger, with Johns Hopkins University's Campus Safety and Security department, walks on the university's campus in Baltimore.

Recent news events have raised safety concerns among some international students studying in the United States.

Adarsh Khandelwal, writing in the India Times, has tips for staying safe from the moment you arrive until the day you complete your studies. (March 2024)

Some colleges are making digital literacy classes mandatory

FILE - A teacher librarian at a Connecticut high school, left, works with a student in a Digital Student class, Dec. 20, 2017. The required class teaches media literacy skills and has the students scrutinize sources for their on-line information.
FILE - A teacher librarian at a Connecticut high school, left, works with a student in a Digital Student class, Dec. 20, 2017. The required class teaches media literacy skills and has the students scrutinize sources for their on-line information.

A 2019 study by Stanford found that most college students can’t tell the difference between real and fake news articles. Amid rampant online disinformation, and the threat of AI-generated images, some schools are making students learn “digital literacy” to graduate.

Lauren Coffeey reports for Inside Higher Ed. (March 2024)

With federal student aid delays, students aren’t sure what college will cost 

File - Students make their way through the Sather Gate near Sproul Plaza on the University of California, Berkeley, campus March 29, 2022, in Berkeley, Calif.
File - Students make their way through the Sather Gate near Sproul Plaza on the University of California, Berkeley, campus March 29, 2022, in Berkeley, Calif.

The U.S. Department of Education’s federal student aid form (FAFSA) experienced serious glitches and delays this year.

Now, many students have been admitted to college, but don’t know how much money they’ll need to attend.

Read the story from Susan Svrluga and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel for The Washington Post. (March 2024)

Senator draws attention to universities that haven’t returned remains

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, speaks with reporters as he walks to a vote on Capitol Hill, Sept. 6, 2023 in Washington.
Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, speaks with reporters as he walks to a vote on Capitol Hill, Sept. 6, 2023 in Washington.

More than 70 U.S. universities continue to hold human remains taken from Native American burial sites, although those remains were supposed to be returned 30 years ago.

Jennifer Bendery writes in Huffington Post that one senator has been using his position in an attempt to shame universities into returning remains and artifacts. (April 2024)

COVID forced one international student to go hungry

FILE - Masked students walk to the COVID-19 vaccination site at the Rose E. McCoy Auditorium on the Jackson State University campus in Jackson, Miss., July 27, 2021.
FILE - Masked students walk to the COVID-19 vaccination site at the Rose E. McCoy Auditorium on the Jackson State University campus in Jackson, Miss., July 27, 2021.

When Samantha (not her real name) enrolled in community college in the U.S., her family at home in South Africa scrimped and saved to support her.

But the COVID-19 pandemic hurt the family’s finances, and at one point Samantha had four on-campus jobs just to make ends meet. Many in the U.S. believe international students are wealthy sources of funding for universities, but stories like Samantha’s suggest otherwise.

Andrea Gutierrez reports for The World. (March 2024)

Load more

XS
SM
MD
LG