The ol’ College try

It’s hard for me to believe that I took Paul – our youngest – to his first college fair at Farragut High School last night. Where has the time gone? Weren’t we just taking him for the first day of pre-school?

Meanwhile, just four years ago, we were doing all of this college selection stuff with Holly. But she’s the oldest. That sort of sounds like you are STARTING something.

Learning to ride a bike. Getting braces on. Getting braces off. Learning to drive. As a parent, you go through so many FIRSTS with your oldest child. They really FEEL like FIRSTS.

But when you’re going through a FIRST with your YOUNGEST child, it sounds like you’re about to end something. It sounds like you are going through a LAST.

I’m sure there will be plenty of time to write empty nester blogs somewhere down the line, so I’ll save that thread for later. This entry is about the college fair. And oh what a fair it was.

150 Schools. Countless college counselors. And droves of frantic FHS students and parents. The energy level at the school was tremendous.

It’s fun to watch this college selection stuff through the eyes of a teen. There is so much wide-eyed amazement, coupled with youthful enthusiasm. So, we let him lead the way.

For example, Paul was really charged up about going to the Dartmouth table. Nothing against Dartmouth; it’s a fine school. But Dartmouth, really? Last night, in the FHS commons, was the first time I had ever heard Paul mention the word Dartmouth in his entire life!

But, sure, why not? Let’s check out the Dartmouth table. Sure is green!

Along the way, he ruled out Purdue (not interested in engineering), Vanderbilt (too pricey) and Furman (too purple?).

He collected paperwork from the University of Memphis (tribute to grandpa?), Auburn (tribute to our former next door neighbor?) and Wofford (tribute to…Woffordonians?).

The truth of the matter is Paul didn’t get much out of last night. How could he? The FHS commons was really the FHS commotion last night. What I didn’t realize until later is that this college fair is ACTUALLY for three schools – FHS, Bearden High School and Hardin Valley Academy. The parking lot was packed; the cafeteria even more packed.

I doubt few people got much out of last night – counselors or students.

But, as the saying goes, a journey begins with the first step. Last night, I think, was Paul’s first step when it comes to selecting a college.

For me, it was a little bittersweet. As we zigged and zagged around the room, I kept running into Paul’s classmates and many parents I know – from church, from baseball, from our neighborhood. They’re all taking that first step, too.

The sweet comes from the excitement of youthful exuberance; the bitter comes from knowing that within two short years, I won’t be coming to this place, I won’t be seeing these people and this wonderful chapter will be over.

Like I said earlier, we’ll get there when we get there.

 For tonight, it was kind of like Paul was at an all you can eat buffet…of colleges.

University of Tennessee, anyone?

JG