College Neurosis

The other day I was talking to a friend who was ecstatic to have her son home visiting for the holidays. Halfway through the conversation, I had the sudden head-rotating, floor dropping, revelation that this could be me in the not-so-distant future. As I listened to her tell of her plaintive negotiations to spend as much time as possible with her offspring, I wondered, after all these years, would I be a hand-wringing mother scheduling my son’s every waking moment when he visits me?

Lately, there have been recruiters coming to my son’s school. I work in a university so it’s weird to see my son on the opposite side of the sales fence as myself. It’s also incredibly interesting to hear his perceptions about their programs and presentations. I think we both can’t quite believe it’s here–college. Or university? Which to do? Where to go? What is the best program? What can we afford? East coast? West Coast? Diploma laddering into a degree? Certificate with transferable credits? Degree program from the get go? Sailing school in Australia? Wizard school in the UK? I digress.

I work in education and like any industry, you can pull back the curtain and see the Wizard and it’s always a let-down at first. Sure there are moments of enlightenment that would make Oprah purr, but those of us who chuck coal into the great fires of learning every day, are merely worker ants trying to duct tape a system that heaves along institutionally,  often missing the whole point: the student experience. Not the student enrolment.

So here I am, looking with a somewhat juandiced eye at these institutions trying to ‘sell’ to my son. Luckily, my jaundiced eye is like Dorothy’s from the Wizard of Oz compared to my son’s, so he has a pretty sharp radar for BS when he’s fed it. One of the University presenters apparently came into the classroom, closed all the doors, turned the lights out and put on trance music and played a ‘hip’ video. The whole class recommended them to Fail blog via Facebook.

It’s a pivotal time in anyone’s life, the perilous, often booze-soaked, awkward transition from high school student to university student. I remember my own journey, albeit short, on BC Ferries in a rented van with my brother, a few boxes of sentimental girlie things from my room, and a stomachful of butterflies. I’ll never forget walking into the Phoenix theatre for the first time, fully unhinged from family, and entering the theatre, my only thought: I am home. And I was, for four of some of the happiest and creative years of my life.

I want to find that experience for my son, but it’s a daunting task.Hopefully he will disseminate the tidal wave of information coming at him over the next year and find the through line for his life, between the recruiting hype, and the message of true educators, and walk from one home towards another.

2 Comments

Filed under Relationships

2 responses to “College Neurosis

  1. Monica

    What a lovely encapsulation of the higher learning experience. I have no doubt that B will be guided to a fabulous and memorable period in his life – he has an excellent BS sniffer and talent out the wazzoo. I personally recommend the Wizard School in England. Their alumni achievement record is, well, magical.

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