This time of year I often think back to when I first went off to NMSU in Kirksville, MO. Fellow CN blogger Walter Michka wrote a post called Back to School Lessons Learned on Monday (Walter usually only posts once a week on Mondays so he has consistency going for him). It's about dropping off his last kid at college and he had this to say about his own college experience:
My college experience was a tad… different. I never “took” to college....After two semesters, I had twelve F’s and one D. I spent the rest of my college career playing catch-up: first at a junior college, then a 4-year school downstate, majoring in the opposite of engineering.
I didn’t make new friends there, didn’t join a fraternity. I didn’t forge bonds with young men and women who’d become my life-long soul mates as we journeyed into our collective futures. I was homesick most of the time and only made one “friend,” a girlfriend… until she dropped out, broke up with me, and moved back home (not in the order). My mother died at the start of my final year, making everything worse."
"I finally got through college; I have a degree. It took me longer than planned but I graduated. I even learned a few things. I know I didn’t get anywhere near the experience I should have out of school. And I know there are no do-overs. But I can now see how this time in a child's life is supposed to go when I watch Kid #1, Kid #2, and now Kid #3 dart off and swim away.
It only took me one semester to get my act together. While I was hopelessly, hilariously under-prepared for higher education and being away on my own, I did adjust and course correct a bit quicker than Walter although the academic damage was already done. The emotional damage took many more years to recover from.
NMSU had forgiveness so if you retook a class, the better grade trumped. unfortunately you take both grades with your transcript when you transferred. I spent the rest of my college career not playing catch-up so much as trying to finish ....majoring in the opposite of engineering as well: journalism, or at least the UIC equivalent -Mass Communication.
Unlike Walter, I did make a lot of friends at NMSU, many of whom I'm still connected with through Facebook. But like Walter, I do feel like I had no where near the experience I should have had in a small college town during my late teenage/early adult years.