Sunday, April 7, 2013

College Touring

a clock tower that is not at my alma mater


We took our son on his first official college tour on Friday.  He will graduate from high school in two years, so it is time to ease him into this college stuff.  He doesn't have much of an opinion yet, so our plan is to expose him to different types of colleges and hope he starts giving it all some thought.

We did not start our college explorations by touring my (and my husband's) alma mater.  Our son hears us carry on about that place all the time!  We thought we'd start at the rival institution in our state.  I expected pasting on a fake smile the entire time to cover my true feelings, but our tour guide's enthusiasm and love for his school were so genuine that I recognized myself in him, and I found myself smiling for real and nodding along to every positive thing he said about his beloved school.

Taking the tour reminded me of my own college days when I'd see new college parents being led around my campus.  Whenever I'd see a group of parents on tour, I would mentally rehearse my own spiel to them, should I ever find myself in a tour guide position (which I never did. But, you know, I wanted to be prepared, just in case).  I started college in the fall of 1985, before we had cell phones, email, text messaging, and all the other millions of ways we can stay connected 24/7 today.  My two roommates and I had one university-issued rotary dial phone hanging on the wall in our dorm room, which we had to share.  Long distance phone calls were expensive, so I would call my mom after 11:00 p.m., or on Sunday afternoons when rates were cheaper.  The first few times I called, she answered the phone right away, but then came that Sunday not too far into September when I called home and the phone just rang and rang and rang.  (My parents didn't have an answering machine.  We were really dark ages!)  I was easily adjusting to college life, but that first unanswered phone call home left me feeling abandoned and forgotten.  Where are they? How could they have left the  house when I might be calling?  Why aren't they sitting home by the phone, waiting for my call?  That was what I was going to tell those prospective parents of freshman students:  for the first year your child is away at college, never ever leave your home phone unattended, especially on a Sunday when the phone rates are cheapest!

Of course, today that advice is obsolete.  Today's orientation guides probably beg the parents of incoming freshmen to put the phone away and leave their poor kid alone.

(And I can't resist a shout out to my alma mater's basketball team as they head into the national championship game on Monday:  Go Blue!)