Monday, December 05, 2005

Eighteen and I Like It

As 2005 begins to unwind, I find myself looking over the shoulder of my eighteen-year old a little more often these days. It doesn’t seem that long ago. Ouch!

We spent a good part of this year calling on colleges. Some far away, some right here in our own backyard. I’ve got to admit, it was quite a learning experience for everyone involved. Although I know most of the university presidents around here on a first name basis, I can’t say I really knew their business all that well—until this year that is.

The closest I came to college was visiting my buddies to party at Kent and BGSU in my late teens and early twenties. As easy as it was to get into those schools then (and believe me, they wouldn’t let either of my buddies into those schools now) it still wasn’t a place accepting of my scholarly standing.

Fortunately for me, I married a really smart girl and my daughter received more of her genes than mine.

From the iconoclastic campus of Stanford to the stately and gothic Boston College, what once was a far-fetched dream for me turned into quite a reality for my daughter this summer—and quite a decision.

Let’s see, should she consider a bucolic, sparse liberal arts college like Sarah Lawrence or the quite urbane NYU? Liberal-liberal Oberlin or the crowded campus of OSU? The studious University of Chicago or suburban-preppy Lake Forest?

The choice and differences between higher education facilities in this country is just mind-numbing. For her to be even able to consider one of these places is an accomplishment that astounds me—let alone trying to figure out which one is the right one for her.

But for all the brains god and my wife granted my daughter, it still seems to be coming down to a good old fashioned decisional crunch time. While she currently frets over the minutiae of application information, she still doesn’t have a worldly clue what she wants to do in her life. Arghh!

And that’s really OK with me; I would never want to push her in any particular direction. It just pains me to see her agonize over it; knowing the decision she needs to make right now, will shape much of what she learns—and ultimately does for the rest of her life. Maybe it was good thing I took the path I did?

She’s really blessed though. Good grades. Good study habits. Artist. Writer. Musician. Activist. She could choose any of a dozen or two paths and be incredibly successful.

And that’s the problem. Which place to go next in her life seems such an ominous decision. Unfortunately, there’s nothing a dad can do now except wait—and not push (words of wisdom from my wife.) The hardest part for me is just letting it be. She just told me I don’t understand girls. I guess I don’t.

But what I’m most left with after all this…

It really wasn’t that long ago that I held the little hand of a an infant girl with all the wants and worries a new dad can possibly possess. How can it be eighteen years already? The need to make a major life decision now is somewhat balanced for me by the pride of being able to hang in there for the last eighteen years and allow it all to go flowing by.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Ron,

Good to see that you have a blog of your own. I'll be sure to check in and see what you're thinking and writing about.

Miles

Wendy Hoke said...

Hi Ron,
It's good to see you here. And your post left me a little melancholy as my oldest just turned 13. If I could share any advice with young people today it's that they must remain open to possibilities. There's a good chance that what they set out to do in college is not what they'll end up doing in life. And that's okay. Just get the grounding from home and education that let you ride the wave of life.
Thanks for writing,
Wendy (a former Caxton neighbor at CPG)

steveg said...

Ron,
The way I made my final choice (and I was accepted at many highly competitive schools including Princeton, CWRU, Carnegie Mellon,Washington in St. Lou, etc ) was so typical of some of the forces that affect a 17 y.o. male.

I was only looking at engineering schools and the male-female ratio was as expected, and the stereotypical female was prevalent. When I visited Duke with my Mommy, I left 40 deg NY weather to a balmy 75 in North Carolina. The students just returned from spring break, so these beautiful co-eds in daisy dukes and halter tops (it was the late 70's)were playing frisbee on the quads. Mom saw my wide eyes and and shiteating grin and said, "You're going here, aren't you?"

I may have made my decision based on hormones, but I never regretted the choice. In hindsight, I probably would have been happy with any of my choices for whatever justification I could have used.

A good fit for college is like a good fit in clothes. A well tailored suit and your favorite jeans are both comfortable and different, but you appreciate them the same when you are wearing them.

Jeff Hess said...

Shalom Ron,

Welcome to the blogosphere.

B'shalom,

Jeff Heess

scott bakalar said...

I just love the web...would have never found your blog on my own, but I'm glad I did. My wife and I truly enjoyed reading.

Please keep this blog up. It is a great "photo-album" of your life, filled with snapshots that are intimate and at the same time universal.

I, for one, would love to read an entry on your blog title!

Jim Fisher said...

Hey Ron,

Glad to see you're blogging away. Thanks for being a strong voice for IT in NEO.

Jim Fisher

Simon Langer said...

Hi, I was just wandering the blogosphere and here I am at your blog. I enjoy the style of how this all works.

This is one to watch.

Cheers,

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