This month brings change with my children in a completely unprecedented manner: My oldest daughter will be starting up at Denver University (she transferred from Colorado State University, Fort Collins at the end of last school year), my son is starting college at Pitzer, far off in Southern California, and the youngest is heading to high school just a few miles from home.
There’s a story in each of their journeys, of course, but what’s a bit overwhelming is just how much change our family is going to weather in a very short period of time. And surprisingly, high school is the first story, with our local school district starting up from summer really early. Like middle-of-August early. And for K-, my eager 14yo student, it’s a much bigger transition than just a new school because she’s also switching from a small private school into the big world of a public school. From being in an 8th grade class of 21 children to a 9th grade of over 500 students.
To her huge credit, she’s embracing the situation and eager to “swim in a much bigger sea”. The social activities are going to be quite more expansive and basics of public school that I remember from when I was a kid, like a library and cafeteria are suddenly part of her experience too. Hard to imagine a school without those and without lockers. Just as importantly, she’ll be experiencing more of a mix of people; every privacy school tends to a minimally diverse population compared to a public school. Still, our area of Colorado is pretty weak in the minority presence (compared to Denver, say) so it’ll be an improvement for her, but it’s still not going to be quite so dramatic as starting at Denver South or similar.
To ease the transition, we’ve been very enthused about her participating in volleyball, which is working out great. She had to try out for the team (something she’d never done before) and made it onto the team she wanted. That means she’s already starting to establish a new circle of friends and will have at least one or two familiar faces in all her classes. Go team, go!
Meanwhile, the really big changes are all about college. For my older daughter, she’s transferring from one really good Colorado-based university to another. As part of that, she’s narrowing in on her career vision, going from an art major to an English major with a minor in business. I’m happy with the change, I think it’s more likely to allow her to find autonomy as an adult and a greater earning potential professionally both.
I already have friends who attend DU – as the University of Denver is known – and am very familiar with that area of Denver, so it’s a great place for her to land. DU is also in the optimal distance zone for a college too, an hour’s drive from home. That means it’s close enough that she can come back for the weekend if she wants, but far enough away that we’re not going to be dropping in unexpectedly and disrupting her new college life. Not entirely by coincidence, her boyfriend is also a student at DU, though studying in a very different field.
And then there’s my son. After having done splendidly at his boarding school in Montana for high school and graduating with honors, he’s been accepted into one of his top choices, Pitzer College in Claremont, California. Pitzer is part of the Claremont Colleges, known informally as the “5C’s”, and it’s going to be a huge culture shock for him to go from somewhat redneck Kalispell, Montana to the bastion of political correctness at Pitzer. But a really excellent experience for him, and unlike the vast majority of incoming freshman, he’s already experienced flying solo and being responsible for his time, living space, food, and general lifestyle.
He’s very excited and, since it’s modern times, he’s already in a group chat with his future roommate and suitemates, and they’re already earning points with him for humor and nutty responses. Their latest conversation is about loft beds and bear trap collections. I think he’s going to do just fine with them!
The calendar days are flying off the wall (imagine that old movie trope and you’ll get the remark!) and we’re ready to pack up the car to take my son out to Pitzer. A road trip through Grand Junction, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. Should be great fun. And then in just a few weeks all of my little children will have moved forward with new chapters of their lives. High school. College. College. Where does the time go?