Mar 30, 2010 12:00PM ● Published by Wendy Sipple
Illustraton by John Stricker
Hard as it is for me to believe, my daughter Emma is heading to college next fall.
But I’m excited for her and all the prepping we’ve done has brought back a lot of fond memories of my own college years at Central Washington University, home of the Wildcats, class of ‘86, baby. It was four years of finding out who I was, surrounded by friends, good times and so, so much learning. Like…
Sociology: I was a brand-new freshman when I learned my place in the academic pecking order. My first week, a particularly tweedy, raptorial-looking professor verbally eviscerated me for talking in class. I never forgot his concise eloquence. And I quote: “Mr. Mailey, you cannot begin to fathom the depths of my indifference towards your lack of attention.” I never spoke out of turn in any class ever again.
Psychology: If I prefaced a quarterly visit home by telling my mom how I never truly appreciated all that she did for me growing up, I learned that she wouldn’t be nearly as upset when I showed up with three months worth of laundry…and an earring.
Human Biology: It is possible to cram 13 consecutive hours for a final, fueled by nothing but instant coffee and whatever’s left in the lounge snack machine. But the sleep that follows will be fitful and full of dreams of showing up late to class in nothing but underpants.
Mathematics: Bill and Tom are hosting a kegger on Friday night at 7 p.m. and they’re inviting 20 people. By 10:30 p.m., there are 457 folks. If the standard keg holds 15 gallons and the standard plastic cup 12 ounces, how many more kegs and cups will Bill and Tom need before campus police arrive?
Art: My roommate and I created our own Sistine Chapel by filling the ceiling of our dorm room with pushed-in beer caps. And it only took us two quarters. Michelangelo spent, what, four years?
Music: Prince, Springsteen, Madonna, the Police, U2...they were all on this new cable channel called MTV, and they were all white hot. However, my brief attempt to copy the fashion styling of Duran Duran was admittedly ill-conceived: I was not English, had no musical ability and my friends made unrelenting fun of my eyeliner.
Culinary Arts: An upside-down Saturday night could always be righted at the cafeteria’s Sunday brunch with two custom-made egg/bacon/hamburger sandwiches and 10 glasses of grape juice.
Philosophy: Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Whatever limits us, we call fate.” For me that was not being 6’5” and ripped like a guy I briefly hung around with named Morris, who went through girls like English majors went through clove cigarettes. But, G.K. Chesterton said, paraphrasing, “…fate falls on men who fail to act.” So I started hanging out with Craig, who was uglier than me.
Creative Finance: I’ve never been quite sure how we did it but when I finally moved off-campus, my two roommates and I managed to live quite well for an entire year on about $500. Total.
Physical Education: I ran 1.2 miles every day my first quarter of school after naively scheduling back-to-back classes at opposite ends of the campus. See also: Geography.
As you can probably tell, I did not attend school on an academic scholarship. But I still came away wiser than when I started. And since my daughter is already smarter than I was at her age, I have few worries...other than the towering specter of tuition costs and a hope that she never runs into her campus’ version of Morris.
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