Friday, July 18, 2008

Being True To My School

This past Monday, my wife, our son, and I were visiting a college campus in a neighboring state. While on the campus tour, our exuberant tour guide decided to teach his school's fight song to us.

It just so happens that this particular university is the arch rival of the one from which I graduated, so I quite naturally did not participate. I couldn't lest I would feel like a traitor.

The guide of course noticed my non-participation and called me out. I rather bluntly explained that I was an alum from Rival School and damn proud of it! This of course was cause for much guffawing and laughter . . . But I didn't care. I'm loyal to my Alma Matter and proved it that day.

Unfortunately this was the cause of some embarrassment to my son, and near mortification on my wife's part. (Both of them participated in the lesson to varying degrees.)

So I ask you, dear readers: What would you have done?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Of Time and Change. . .

I've been thinking a lot lately about college.

Our son is a Senior in High School so picking an institution of higher learning is paramount in all our thoughts these days. The selection process is daunting considering all the variables to worry about with curriculum, location, tuition, majors, demographics, and grades being constant topics of discussion.

The last couple days have been a bit different for me though.

This weekend the boy, no, young man, has been participating in a three day swim meet being held at my alma matter. Being there made me think back to my years in college. While there were two more of those years than I probably should have had (heh, that's another story) they were arguably the best years of my life - while at the same time being pivotal in my becoming the man I am today. The consequences of my college years have had an awesome affect on me.

I hope and pray that our son experiences the same kind of growth, the same kind of enlightenment that I experienced. That is to say, to learn what he needs to learn about himself, about life, and about the world that we all share. The lessons that I learned shaped me, and the lessons that he will learn will shape him.

Suddenly picking a college seems ginormously more daunting. . .

The good news is we are making progress. Well, they are making progress. . . My wife has approached the subject with her formidable analytical and organizational skills and has worked endlessly to gather information on any and every college that has any possibility of appealing to our young man. By thoughtful categorization and classification, a few hundred institutions of higher learning have been paired down into a very manageable group. We've even been on an official visit, with more scheduled in the next few weeks. . .

Beyond being supportive and managing some of the logistics, I'm not much help in the process though because I have no personal experience to draw on: I had no choice really in where I would go to college. At least not that I was aware of. I went to "Alma Matter University" because I could commute to school while keeping my job and living at home to minimize expenses and prevent putting additional financial burdens on my family. In fact my big decision was not what college I would go to, but IF I would go. I was seriously considering going to the Fire Academy to become a firefighter, and also high up on the list was becoming a mechanic like my dad.

But school was my choice - and thank God It was! For without it, I would be a very different person today and would likely not now be thinking about colleges for my son. If I even had a son . . . For it was my last few years in college that helped turn a long friendship between me and my high school sweetheart into what has become a long marriage!

To this day we marvel at the circumstances that brought the two of us together. I had no understanding then of the gravity of my decision to go to college, but I do now. And I'm in awe.

I guess for our son, all I can hope for is that we do the best we can and pick the right school based on those criteria we deem most important.

I hope we do an awesome good job.