Sunday, August 10, 2008

Somewhat Sad Day

Today my son went back to college (as a sophomore). He packed up his truck and drove back to the college he attends about 150 miles away. He had to be there a week early to train freshman for the scholarship program he's involved in.

It isn't as hard as last year, when he was a freshman and I had to help him move in, of course, because that's what we middle class parents in the U.S. do with our college age children. This year, he's on his own, as it should be. He's taking about 2/3 as much stuff as last year, perhaps less (we learned that lesson!). The question of his success and happiness and adjustment in college is not an issue now. But the house is empty again , and his two old fart parents will go back to our quiet, boring lives without him. (We were both well into our 30s when he was born, so we were always much older than his peers' parents when he was growing up).

As for him, I know he was glad to get back to 24/7 friends and fun and independence and academic challenges. One of my main goals for my son was that he would enjoy college to the fullest--since I'm a college teacher, I believe that is a seminal time that needs to be nurtured.

Which brings me to an excellent book I just read, My Freshman Year, by Rebekah Nathan (pseudonym, I understand her real name is Cathy Small). I would recommend it. It made me rethink my scheduling and requirement issues in class. Students are supposed to study 2 hours outside of class for every hour in class; I think I've been requiring my students to exceed that, which means they learn superficially. However, I understand the ethical concerns with the book, and I really have a hard time believing that a woman my age could go live in the dorms and not be laughed at by the 18-22 year olds. I know how I would have thought about that when I was 19 or 20; I would have thought the woman was mentally deficient or something. I also can't believe none of the students knew she was a professor at her own college, and that no one outed her.

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