People always wax nostalgic about their four, magic college years— the fantastic times they had, the amazing people they met. They find their lifelong best friends in college, everyone tells me. They meet their future wives or husbands. They learn things. They’re trained in skills and interests they can use when they go out into the real world. I have to take their word for it.
The two and a half hour drive home gave me time to think how different my college experience was. Just a little bit. I know now, after two, three years of therapy how I probably could’ve made college not such a wasted experience. But back then it was constant frustration and misery.
First of all, I went to three schools in five years, and hated pretty much all of them.
I didn’t pick college #1, my father did. No applications to multiple schools, waiting anxiously for letters of acceptance. I went to dear ol’ dad’s alma mater, majoring in engineering like he did. After I flunked that one, I went to #2, a junior college to bring my grades up. A couple years of drinking, messing around with women, and gen-ed classes and it was time for #3, a state school six and half hour away.
I enrolled and moved into those dorms mid-year— big mistake.
Just like dropping my son, everyone in my dorm was: “Hey, man, welcome back!” “Great to see you, again!” None of it directed at me. I was the new guy, odd man out. They were 18-year-old freshmen. I was a 20-year-old junior+. I wasn’t Mr. Gregarious. And I was severely homesick. I didn’t make a lot of friends in class either. It was downhill after that.
I graduated. Eventually.
Like shielding my first two kids from my dentist trauma, I’m pretty sure I’ve successfully protected my kids from my college trauma. Only two more to go!