College Musings

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My older son touches a rope sculpture on the UT campus.

In a mere 17 months or so, my #1 son will start his college career. That’s a very sobering statement for me. After all, I’m the kind of mom who used to watch him from across the street when he was on the preschool playground at age three. I was worried that he would be standing all alone, not interacting with anyone. As it turned out, he would play with one or two of the other kids, and my uncertainties were for naught.

But that was then. This is now. My worries about his future and how he will handle being away from home at college have increased 14-fold. My anxiety has nothing to do with his intellect; I feel certain he can handle college courses. On the other hand, #1 doesn’t deal well with change, bottles up his feelings, and is not socially adept. He doesn’t really care whether or not he attends college—he has his heart set on being a songwriter and record producer and owning his own recording studio. Good thing only about a million other kids have that same set of goals!

Once I told #1 that he would get a new MacBook for college, he really perked up about going. Now the Mister and I are trying to guide him in his choice of schools and majors. He doesn’t really want to be a music major (all require auditioning and performing; he barely can play the guitar, and I don’t think that excellent iPod listening will cut it), so what will help him possibly achieve his goals?

I’ve honed in on communications. I earned my bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois (Oskee wow wow!); #1 seems to have inherited my writing ability. But while my focus of studies was print media, #1’s will be electronic media. We also will look for electronic music courses to help with his music-writing talents.

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#1 son is a high school junior, which means it’s time for college visits. We took the first one Saturday and attended the University of Texas’ Explore UT Day, which gave us admission information and more. UT’s Austin campus is about three hours from home, and we drove there with my good friend, Deanna, and her junior son. Even though both boys have known each other for years, no words were exchanged until we got out of the car at home. Awkward! But very typical for #1.

As #1 and I walked around the large campus and attended a couple seminars, one thing was painfully obvious: Even though UT is a great school, it won’t be a great school for #1. It’s much too big and not nurturing enough. #1 wore a glazed-over look within an hour. I know he’s bound to mature before he leaves the nest, but he’s not going to change his basic personality. Smaller would be better for him.

My next-door neighbor JJ, the organizational wiz and wise mom of one college student so far, made a good point: Part of the college decision-making process is ruling out schools where your child doesn’t feel comfortable. I hadn’t thought about it in that way, but, like usual, she’s absolutely right. And now UT has been crossed off our short list (short . . . because it is!).

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There only are two schools right now on our short list: the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. UTSA has about 28,000 students, good degree possibilities, and seems more nurturing. SFA is even smaller. We plan to visit UTSA next Monday (the start of spring break) and SFA at its Saturday Showcase March 28. #1 son automatically qualifies for admittance at both schools based on his SAT score and class rank, and neither school requires an essay for automatic admits. That makes life easier!

Now I know the Aggies reading this will start lobbying for Texas A&M (as my good pal Kim already has). Once again, A&M is too big for the #1 son, plus it doesn’t strike me as being as good a liberal arts school as it is for engineering, math, and science. That’s why A&M didn’t make the short list. Another great school that won’t be great for my son.

If we just lived in Illinois, the decision would be soooo easy: Fighting Illini all the way!

Get ’er dones

Just a couple things on the list: I need to call our insurance agent to ask about roof damage (we have some shingles missing thanks to Hurricane Ike), and I need to put Photoshop Elements 6.0 on the boys’ iMac and my MacBook. Worrying about making the right college choice is NOT on the list!

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6 responses to “College Musings

  1. I went to UTSA for 2 years undergrad before transferring to A&M and Scott got his masters from there. Good school.

    • Did you transfer because of Scott? You’re the second person today who told me they started at UTSA but transferred (the other one left after a year for UH due to a love interest).

  2. Wow Susan, big decisions! A&M is very large, 20 years ago I had 350 people in my Chemistry class. Very overwhelming!

    • Leslie: I remember that some of my core classes were very big (in auditoriums), but classes in my major junior and senior year were smaller. Of course, that was 33 years ago!

  3. I go to the University of Illinois (stumbled onto your blog trying to find an assortment of blog entries for an assignment, believe it or not, for one of my many communication courses) and I have to say Illini is a great place for new media/communication majors.

    I started off as an engineering student but soon realized that this school had more to offer me than just equations and set’s of variables to be solved for and manipulated. It is a fantastic place to experience the other side of technology; understanding what technology means to society.

    Anyway, if your son is, in fact, a talented writer and interested in new forms of media (particularly the ever expanding uses/critiques/advancements in internet development) then Illinois would be a fantastic choice. It is a huge campus though, I’ve had more than two or three hundred people share a lecture hall with me and I’ve heard that some get up in the five hundred range.

    • Good to hear from a U of I student! Thanks for chiming in. However, the #1 son sadly won’t be applying to the big U, because it’s too far away. Best of luck to you with your studies!

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