Freshman orientation.

photo(25)Spending two days on a college campus will do one of two things for/to you when you’re my age.   Or maybe a little of both.  It will recall your own university days while reminding you how old you are now.  But if you’re lucky, it will also give you a jolt of youthful energy the likes of which you haven’t known in years.  Fortunately I got the good with the bad.

I spent Monday and Tuesday on the University of North Carolina – Wilmington campus.  It’s a part of the 17-campus UNC system.**  Wilmington is a port city, thus UNCW is our coastal university.  Many students matriculate there in order to study marine sciences.

My granddaughter H will be attending UNCW in the fall so I accompanied her and her mom, my youngest daughter S, to freshman orientation.  I pretended I was a parent and attended parent classes with S while H took placement tests, got acquainted with the campus and a good sampling of other freshmen students, and registered for fall semester classes.  The staff and upperclassmen who assisted with orientation were superb.  They worked together and ran their programs like a well-oiled machine.  Very impressive.

H is an artist and knows she wants to do something with her artistic talent, maybe graphic arts.  She’s  not entirely sure what her course of study will include.  Registration was an exercise in frustration for her.  She didn’t get any typical freshman courses because her AP exam scores are not available yet and she doesn’t know what courses she will not have to take.  In my opinion the courses she did get sounded more interesting than the typical freshman fare–Women’s Studies, for example.photo(23)

S and I were able to see much of the campus while we were waiting around for H.  At one point we were in the library when I saw a big blue glass sculpture in a display case. I went over to examine it more closely and learned it was done by one of my favorite artists, Dale Chihuly.  I think I have mentioned Chihuly in this space before.  Much of his work is displayed in Seattle where he lives.  The artist donated this piece to the UNCW library.  Thank you, Mr. Chihuly!  It’s beautiful.

In my opinion, universities are delightful places to spend time, especially with incoming first year students.  Everywhere I looked I saw beautiful faces beaming with hope, and energetic bodies in constant motion.  They don’t realize what a joy they are for the older generation to behold.  I have no desire to go back to that age, but I do have great confidence in their intelligence and good intentions.  They are our hope and I believe in them.photo(24)  Okay–enough schmaltz from me.

**For years the University of North Carolina System has been considered by many educators and other professionals to be one of the best state systems in the country.  Our history is long and impressive.  The University of NC at Chapel Hill was founded in 1789.  The Chapel Hill campus is the oldest public university in the United States and the only one that graduated students in the 18th Century.  As mentioned above, we have grown to 17 campuses.

Sadly, I (along with many other North Carolinians) have serious concerns about the future of higher education in our state.  We now have a Republican Governor AND a majority of Republicans in the General Assembly for the first time since Reconstruction.  Their first day on the job, they began a maniacal attack on education.  They are cutting funds and programs not only in the university system but in the K-12 public schools as well. It appears that our best years may be behind us.  Without adequate funds we will no longer be able to recruit the brightest and the best.  I’m demoralized by this turn of events.  But I’m also motivated to vote those destructive people out of office in the next election.

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16 thoughts on “Freshman orientation.

    • Thank you, Vishnu. I am honored indeed that you nominated me for the Liebster Award. I decided a while back that I’m not very good at following through on awards. Part of it is that I’m rather techno-challenged. Thanks again, though.

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  1. How lucky is H to be going to school. My heart opened reading about her launch. I love that you visited your alma mater and to think your granddaughter is going too. Like the trajectory of that. One of my biggest regrets has always been never opting for school. Had the chance and didn’t go. So happy for H.

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    • Hi Susannah. I’m grateful, too, that H will be able to attend university. It’s what she wants to do.

      As to your regret about not attending–I bet you made the best decision for you at the time. And for what it’s worth, some of the most educated people I know did not go to college. I include you in that group as evidenced by your writing.

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  2. Thanks, Tish. I was thinking of you the whole time we were there. Even though I was sorta pulling for UNCA, I have to admit UNCW was love at first sight for me, and apparently for H as well. S and I promise we won’t abuse your hospitality, but I have to admit it’s good to know you’re there just in case. Hope you’re having fun. Say hi to B.

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    • Pat,
      Also, I think you’ve heard me tell the story of B’s first semester. He took only courses that interested him because he wasn’t sure of his major. Took a course in several areas he was considering plus English and the mandatory freshman study type course. He aced them all except English where he got a B just because he was studying things he liked. Scared me to no end and I remember saying he better not be ready to graduate only to find he hadn’t taken something freshmen were supposed to. Turned out to be the best strategy ever. Since he started with an almost 4.0, when he struggled through a couple of courses later outside his interest area, his GPA never suffered. I’ve often thought it was a strategy he discovered by accident, but that we should encourage freshmen to use. Can’t wait to hear how much she loves UNCW. Know she will. Make sure she has my number, just in case she gets lonely or needs a good meal out.

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  3. Pat,
    I’m not even going to start about our General Assembly and Governor. I just hope 2014 gets here quickly enough to get some of them out. Noticed several letters or comments today from folks who moved to NC to retire who are so frustrated with new tax proposals. Seems the GA is getting everyone upset.

    It’s good to see you back online. I did read your post the other day, but just never got around to responding.

    Am in CA visiting B. Anyway, I’m so happy H is going to UNCW. B loved it there and it’s still “his” university. This post brought back memories of attending his orientation. It’s where he met the friends that moved him to So. Ca. and he’s heading to one of their weddings this weekend in Denver. Since I work with the early college associated with UNCW, I am on the campus fairly often. Everything you say is true. I just love to walk the campus, go in the library, see the kids being successful, and soak up the atmosphere. It’s one of the prettiest UNC campuses in my opinion. All those gorgeous traditional tide water brick buildings embedded in the acres and acres of trees. Just know my house is yours anytime you or S want to visit. I’ll be back at the beach around mid August. Just let me know. Don’t hesitate to call. You know where your room is.

    Tish

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  4. I love young faces beaming with hope. And I’m always more than pleased to see a posting from you. sadly, all over the western world a lack of money is challenging valuable insitutions

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  5. I love your reflections on the hope on all the new faces; even reading about this fills me with hope. That’s a good thing in light of the grim changes you describe in the post’s conclusion. May the wrong turns taken today be righted by tomorrow’s forward thinkers!

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    • Thanks, Deb. I value your comments. I am blessed to have five teenage granddaughters right now. There’s hope (and anguish 🙂 ) everywhere.

      The grim changes in our state extend far beyond the university system–women’s rights, cuts in unemployment funds, voters’ rights, cuts in food stamps, cuts in Medicaid. It goes on and on here in this state which has been fairly progressive for a Southern state. The activist in me is revving up!

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  6. How nice to be able to attend this event – and some interesting thoughts arising from it. All the best to your granddaughter, and may she make the right choices.

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    • Thanks, Cat. She’s a level-headed girl, very measured in her decisions.

      As to being on a college campus–it’s really special for me these days. I grew up in a small college town and took so much for granted back then.

      It’s always good to hear from you.

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  7. I am so glad for you that you had such a joyful day with your daughter and grand-daughter, enjoying the moments of the day in seeing her youthful enthusiasm’ and having a little fond nostalgia for your own past at the same time.
    You appear to be in a happy tranquil place of late and I am so happy for you.
    Wishing you many more happy times ahead 🙂

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    • Thank you, Elizabeth. I am in a good place. I’m challenged to be creative about the extreme Charlotte heat and humidity. So far it hasn’t beaten me down. I have a trip to San Francisco during the hottest part of the summer. San Francisco is much cooler than here. I’m looking forward to that. I’ve found that having something to look forward to is good psychology.

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