It’s a bit hard for me to wrap my head around the concept, but the truth is staring me in the face, the calendar doesn’t lie and my oldest, A-, is heading off for college on Monday, a college that’s almost 1000 miles away from home. It’s been quite a journey for all of us to get here and in many ways she has borne the brunt of my divorce and the subsequent decade of living a two-household life.
As a result, I’d be remiss if I didn’t start this with huge props to her for getting to this point, being accepted to a really good college and having the courage to say “yes”, show up on move-in day and begin the next chapter of her young life!
Still, one consequence of a decade of dual-house living is that she’s been clear since the beginning of the discussion that she wanted to “get outta Dodge” and refused to even consider any colleges in our home state of Colorado. And I respect her for that decision and contrast it with my own less adventurous choice to attend the University of California, San Diego, a mere 140 miles from my parents home in greater Los Angeles all those years ago when I was an undergrad.
Much of the journey into college is about what high-falutin’ shrinks call “individuation” and it’s a delight to watch A- become her own woman, making her own decisions about what she believes is best for her and her future, not just agreeing with whatever her mother or I suggest. This is not without its occasional conflict, of course, but that’s part of the process too.
Of course, the college she’s chosen, Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, is her Mom’s alma mater, but I trust that A- has assessed all of her college options and determined that it’s her best choice, whether or not Mom attended many years ago. And if it’s not the perfect fit? People do transfer, and there are many other colleges and universities that would be darn lucky to have her as an undergrad student and member of the campus community.
Here’s what’s weird, though: I’ve never stepped foot on campus and my girl’s moving there in less than a week!
Fortunately, there’s the Internet, and so I now know that Trinity is located in the heart of historic San Antonio, Texas (remember the Alamo?), it’s a small liberal arts school with just over 2,200 students and has a respectable 9:1 student / teacher ratio. The average incoming freshman has a 3.52 GPA and she fits right in with those stats, having gone to a small private school where classes were measured in dozens, not hundreds.
I’ve also been to San Antonio before – I actually co-hosted a conference there many years ago – and fondly remember the beautiful San Antonio Riverwalk:
The Riverwalk area is a fun and very tourist-friendly place with some terrific food options and there’s lots else to see in and around “San Antone”, as locals call it, including, yes, the Alamo, scene of the famous battle where Davey Crocket lost his life.
But just as my undergrad life had little to do with the nightlife and attractions in San Diego, I somehow expect that A-‘s experience is going to be much more defined by her residence hall:
Her dorm room — and roommate! — and the ever-popular dining hall:
Add to the list classrooms and the library and you have most of an undergrad’s first year covered. Actually, a modern college might have so much information available online through the campus intranet that perhaps libraries are obsolete?
My undergrad degree was in computer science, so the computer labs were all important to us, particularly in the first year or two, but I have a feeling that A- will find the gym a better place to work off the stress of her college adventures and challenges, since after all, the computer she’ll have on her desk is far more sophisticated than the big, expensive mainframes we had back in the day!
Still, as much as I’m excited and proud to see her poised to open a new chapter in her life, a chapter that really marks the transition from child to adult, I’m also a bit nostalgic for when I was a major player in her life. It’s been a journey with its turbulence and challenges, but it’s been quite an adventure nonetheless and I couldn’t be prouder of her!
Ahhh… ultimately it’s all good, this is how transitions go, but yeah, there might just be a slight hint of moisture in my eyes when I watch her head on down the highway and into the bright sunshine of her future.