My informant for this story is my friend.
In his family, dating back to his grandparents, though they were fairly poor and grew up during the Depression and were economically impacted, many members of the family went to college. This was somewhat unique for the time period, specifically for the region and time they lived in. Furthermore, many of the children went on not just to college or higher education, but to attain several degrees or terminal degrees.
Accordingly, it became sort of a rite of passage for each sibling to begin their college career and make the visits back home and participate in the other typical collegiate activities. As each one got closer to go to college and was accepted, all the members of the family would start to call him “Joe College.” My friend’s grandfather said he was never sure where the term originated or who first started saying it, but he was the oldest of his generation within the family and when he got towards the end of high school and was accepted into college, his parents, grandparents and his siblings began calling him “Joe College.” It became something that each one went through, again, like a rite of passage. When he had his own children, he did the same, as did each of his siblings and I remember when my friend got accepted to college, his grandfather called him “Joe College.” I never knew why or what it meant exactly until I researched it for this assignment.