Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Off to College

This past Saturday, I drove my son, JW, to begin the next stage of his life at Allegheny College. My, how college has changed over the years.

As an incoming freshman, he was required to be there a full five days before classes started. Both of us wondered what he would do for those five days but it was clear upon our arrival that Allegheny (and I would imagine, most private colleges) knew what they were doing. Right off the bat, they were organized. At the curb in front of his dorm we were greeted by a team of young adults whose sole purpose was to get his stuff out of my car and into his room. They reduced our 35 minute loading process to about 5 minutes to unload.

The orientation packet he received (one for each of us) clearly spelled out his agenda for arrival day right through to the first day of classes. Not that every minute was scheduled, but there were activities and meetings designed specifically to help him ease into this new life by bringing him together with his future class mates, dorm mates and teachers. There was also a concise but practical list of must-do's which included picking up his meal card, finding his post office box and submitting the paperwork for his work study job. And, of course, another guided campus tour to help him see the campus from the eyes of someone who has lived there for a year. I was impressed with the process and the people. And, to be honest, I was envious of this adventure that JW was about to begin.

After completing all the main tasks of the day, we spent some time with his room mate then had our last meal together, at least for a while. As he had two planned activities that first evening, I said goodbye and confidently left my first born to start his adult life.

So often when we drive a long distance, the trip towards our destination seems much longer than the trip home. In this case the opposite was true; it took forever for me to get home. Perhaps because it had been such a long day, or that I was traveling home alone. But, more likely it is because the son I left last Saturday at college would never be the same again, and I will dearly miss him.

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