The College Wars

I took my third born to a college visit. You know those dog and pony shows the universities put on? Everybody gets herded into a big room and are then told all the wonderful experiences your kid will have. You spend 20 G’s a year and your kid gets to make friends. At the end of four (maybe even five) longs years, he/she gets a degree in some field they will probably never work in. This is now my third, and last, round of college visits.

My third born, the second son, does not really know what he wants to major in. He would prefer  I think to live  life as a permanent life guard at the city pool. I imagine he would rather not put this kind of pressure on himself before he wants or needs to. I can certainly understand that considering that I am now approaching the age to qualify for the senior citizen’s discount at Denny’s and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. My wife reminds me on a regular basis that I am already grown up, a fact that I dispute, much to her consternation. Well, I digress.

Our visit to the big state university (Purdue) was within a group of about 500 students and their parents. My son declared early on that he had no intention of attending here as it was too big and impersonal. I think he used the term “factory school.” We were herded through a generic briefing where I was told to be prepared to fork over a $20,000.00 US dollars a year (there went my retirement). Next we were shepherded into another hall with representatives from the various schools within Purdue. My intrepid student has an interest in economics so we looked for representatives from the Krannert School of Management. He was grossly offended that economics was part of a management school and not a school unto itself. That just would not do in his mind. This school was all but struck off his list.

The next stage in the adventures of this wandering herd of confused parents and kids was a tour of the dormitory. As it happened, the dorm we went through was the one where the majority of the freshman lived. Our tour guide proudly told us that this particular dorm was the second largest freshman dorm in the nation. I was thinking to myself, “A building stuffed full of freshman? No good can come from this.” The son made no statement on his potential accommodations but I think he thought the rooms a might small.

As we were guests of the university that day, they invited us to have lunch on them in one of five dining facilities. We had been given a card that would entitle the two of us to eat at the facility that was right next to the freshman dorm. This was our youngest son’s favorite part of the day thus far. I was glad too as this was a meal that somebody else was going to feed him. We were met at the door to the eatery by a guide and she briefed us on the procedure. There were seven lunch centers, each one having a different cuisine. There was salads at one, burgers at another, pizza at the next bar, so forth and so on. You get the picture. There was also an oriental counter and finally a desert center. Our culinary tour guide ended our briefing with the statement, “Oh, and it’s all you can eat.” I looked at my son in the full and confident knowledge that he had suddenly decided that he had found his school. One burger with fries, four slices (or was it five?) of pizza, a sub sandwich, and ice cream later, he had confirmed in his mind that he had found his “sense of place.”

I cannot imagine the challenge of feeding an entire school of perpetually hungry boys. A lot of these boys will join the military and continue on their feeding frenzy. No wonder the government runs a deficit.


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