I'll Never Write a Novel

The Memoir of a Personal Essayist OR Confessions of a Theatre Widow

Monday, September 08, 2014

On College Selection

The other night my family gathered together for dinner. It was awesome. The food was delicious, but to have all my siblings in one place was beyond any culinary pleasure. I love my family. In the midst of the chaos that is dinner for six siblings, spouses, and dozens of kids of the next generation, I got a chance to chat with my oldest nephew. He is 17. SEVENTEEN. I remember holding him when he was a newborn. I treasure him. Because he is a treasure. He is looking at colleges now because he is a senior in high school. Good gracious.

He is a smart kid, as nice as they come, and has been raised well. He will do exceptionally well at college, no matter where he goes. We were discussing everything that goes into the process of picking a university. Location, programs, campus vibe, etc. He has visited a lot of campuses so far. He had strong impressions of the feeling he got from the people he met, and his sense for what kind of school it is. I shared with him that I never visited my university before choosing to go there. That's craziness. Bonkers. I grew up under a half hour drive from my college and I had never set foot on the campus until I had already enrolled.

Who does that?

What I ended up telling my awesome nephew is this: I knew I was supposed to be there. And I encouraged him to confidently decide that he knows where he is supposed to be.

I am an indecisive person. Just ask my frequently annoyed husband. I mull over things far beyond their mulling point. It is hard for me to make a final choice without feeling like I have thoroughly studied all my options. Did I say thoroughly? I won't make a decision on a block of cheese at the supermarket without consulting my Just4U app, and maybe some circulars, and definitely by comparing price per pound with all the other cheeses. But I made a very expensive, life altering, incredibly important decision without every last ounce of detail on board. And I was right. I also told my nephew that if he hated where he picked, he can always switch. People do that. Successful people do that. The world is full of opportunities.

I adore my college. My love for it is profound. It fully helped me realize the direction of my life. My husband and I met our first weekend on campus, and married while still students. I saw my skills and gifts blossom under the encouragement of great mentors on what is a truly beautiful campus, as it turns out. And the people, all the people, are wonderful. I am so grateful for my incredible friends made there. It is a very special place. In my current gig on the Alumni Board for the university we hear presentations from the admissions office. They talk about the importance of campus visits in student decision-making, I sometimes wonder why I am different from all those other students. And I am so happy I knew where I was headed.

The same might be said for my decision to get married while in college. To be clear, I might tell my nephew he's crazy if he says he met "the one" within his first week of college. My husband and I met within the first two days at college (although we didn't actually start dating till our sophomore year). By the time we got married we had heard every question under the sun from people trying to ascertain whether we were sure we knew what we were doing. Most people thought we were crazy. And maybe we were. But I couldn't have chosen a better match, and I might not have found him if I had picked a different college. All I can say for my wishes for my nephew's college choice is I hope he isn't too far from home, but only he knows what's right for him (I have been gently trying to persuade him to pick my university). I just cling to the hope that I will get lots more times to sneak away for good conversations at family dinners. Another thing I am 100% positive of is that my nephew is a great person, the kind of guy I hope my boys grow up to be like. No additional research necessary.

My campus at Pacific Lutheran University. See, beautiful.

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PLU was the only college I applied to--I did do a perfunctory campus visit, but somehow I couldn't be bothered to apply anywhere else! It all just works out, I guess :)

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Beth, I am beginning to think that maybe I am not as crazy as I thought. All the best people just knew they were supposed to be at PLU. Thank goodness!

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