The college application season is upon us. My oldest son, a junior, is just beginning his college search process. Two months ago we went on our first college visit together. I really wasn’t sure how to feel. Part of me felt excited because I know countess opportunities await him. Then I thought about the little boy he once was and how quickly the time has passed. I couldn’t help but feel sad.
The college tour began and there was too much to see, hear, and absorb for me to wallow in either emotion. As I stood in the open foyer of the twelve-story library, I heard snippets from our tour guide…”The university has Shanghai and Abu Dhabi campuses, so there is a media center specialist available 24 hours a day somewhere.”…”Just text your question and the media center specialist will send sources directly to your phone.” What? My college media center specialist showed me how to use a microfiche machine. That’s right, microfiche. If the library even had the source I needed, I had to fumble around trying to get the microfiche film in just the right spot under a microscope-like contraption so it could be magnified and viewed on a monitor. Only then could I read it and take notes by hand. These were the pre-Internet days of the early 90s. Hearing that my son could be texted the source he needed any time of the day or night hardly seemed fair.
We went on to visit a dorm. More snippets…”There are five cafeterias available.”…”Several cater to food allergy and vegan diets.” My food allergy mom ears perked right up. “Are there refrigerators and microwaves available in the dorms so a person with food allergies can cook for himself if he has trouble eating in the cafeterias?” I asked. The tour guide responded “The cafeterias will cater to students with food allergies, so that shouldn’t be a problem. However, all students can have refrigerators and microwaves in their dorm rooms.” What? When I went to college refrigerators and microwaves in dorm rooms were considered contraband and were confiscated.
As the tour continued I heard about the myriad of fabulous course offerings, study abroad options on every continent except Antarctica, and illustrious internship opportunities. It was thrilling to think about all that today’s colleges have to offer my son. Yet, I couldn’t help but think my own college experience was sub-par and it had nothing to do with microfiche or microwaves. Family circumstances left me feeling obligated to go to a college close to home that wasn’t my first, second, third, forth, or even fifth choice. I made the best of it, though, and got an excellent education at a solid school. I found life-long friends and a career I love. So if my college experience was lacking, it was my own fault. I didn’t take enough risks. I didn’t push myself to try many new things. I never even studied abroad. Every decision I made was safe and I made decisions based on the needs of others, not my own needs. I don’t want any of that for my son. I want him to explore and feel limitless. I want him to discover that he is capable of things he never imagined. I want my son to go to the college of his dreams and dream BIG while he is there.
Will I miss him? More than I can ever put into words. Do I hope he misses me? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t, but this is his time and I can’t wait to watch him soar. I have one question though. Can I go back to college too? I’d do it so much better this time!