Today our freshmen arrived on campus. We are a small college, so we anticipate having 530 new students or there abouts. 95% of them will live on campus and 90% of them showed up today to check in, move in and begin the next chapter of their lives. It is old hat for me; I have been doing this for almost 20 years. But every year I watch the students and their parents arrive, get in line to check in, drive their cars off to unload at their dorms and wander around campus, taking pictures and launching the students into their new life. The life of a quasi-adult college student.
I say quasi-adult, because we have mostly traditional aged college students. They come to us at around 18 years of age, and straight from high school. Many of them didn’t fill out any of the admissions or aid applications themselves, and they certainly aren’t paying the bill themselves. But this will be their educational experience, so I hope that they put as much into it as they can. Much of the success you can experience in college is about how much you put into it. Do you go to class, participate in class, in extracurricular activities that don’t necessarily involve ping pong balls and quarters, athletics or student government?
I loved my four years in college. I went to a very conservative Christian college, Geneva College, in Beaver Falls PA. At the time it was exactly where I needed to be. I learned so much about myself, my faith, what I did and didn’t believe, and laid the groundwork for who I would be later in life. I thank GOD I didn’t end up marrying any of the guys I dated at that time, but I am grateful for what I learned while dating them – and mostly that is what I learned about myself, not about men. The stuff that I learned about men that was important to know I learned from the men I dated after college, but that is another story for another time.
But while at college, besides going to class and getting a degree in Psychology, I acted in plays, had a radio show on the college radio station, WGEV, and was a teaching assistant for the humanities department. I built snowmen on the quad and made out with boys in the lounge of my dorm, but never drank while in college. It was a dry campus, since it was a Reformed Presbyterian college. The RPs, they are Calvinists, and they are kind of against the consumption of alcohol. I wasn’t an RP, but I was VERY overly conscientious about rules, and LAWS. Underaged drinking was not for me. Breaking school rules, VERY not for me. But I still managed to have a good time and do not regret the time I spent there or the choices I made while there. It is hands down four of the best years of my life. It was the first taste of being an adult, of being in charge of my life, of deciding where and when I would be and do anything. ANYTHING. When I realized that, the freedom and responsibility were very clear all at once. It was MY CHOICE. Everything. And it was all on me. To succeed or fail, it was on me.
I feel my time at Geneva was a success. And I don’t know if I ever said it to any of the professors and other individuals who impacted my experience there, but I will say it now – Thank you. Thank you to my suitemate who was going to the auditions for the freshman play who took me along. Thank you to Dr. Badger, who is now deceased, who gave me my first job grading tests for the Chemistry department. Thank you to Jeff Barker, the first director to cast me in a play, who laughed hysterically at my audition and told me I reminded him of my IDOL Carol Burnett. Thank you to Dr. Stuart who I worked for as a TA and who recommended me for Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.
To all the college students out there who are just embarking on your college life, and the beginning of the rest of your life, make the most of it, and remember to say thank you to everyone who touches that experience. But most of all, say thank you to your parents. Most likely they are helping make this possible, even if it was just by driving you to campus and helping unload your stuff into the small room you will share with at least one other person, who don’t even know yet, but may end up being your best friend for the rest of your life. Just say thank you.