Tuesday, April 12, 2005


"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope."
- Martin Luther King Jr

Yesterday my child received a "waitlist" letter from the college of her dreams. Another one. She had this same situation last year as a high school senior and now again as a transfer applicant. Last year she ran to the mail box every day from April to August, hoping to get that acceptance letter. And now again.

She is intelligent, motivated, creative, friendly, well-rounded, and has a work ethic much greater than most college students. Her teachers want her to stay, her boss at the library will be sad to lose her and of course no university wants students to transfer...loss of revenue and it really does a number on the retention stats. She loves the beauty of the campus; she loves her library job and her boss; she loves most of her teachers and classes but she is also miserable there. Why? Many reasons.

It's a "primo party" school....recycling boxes in the dorms are proudly stuffed to the brim with gallon wine jugs, beer bottles and cans, wine bottles, and whiskey bottles. I have seen them...oh yes...they have an "alcohol policy". Right. It is a joke, might as well not have one. What administration is going to alienate the big money backers of the school by kicking their kids out for drinking? Especially when the parents encourage the children by their own actions.....they drink in front of and with them.

Many of the students have the "spoiled rich brat" mentality. They want to party hearty not study. Most don't even know what they want from college....I guess the Barbie doll girls there (the Ann's) want to find a rich husband and get married. They disrupt things for those who do want to study and no one in authority does anything about it....but warn them...warn them...over and over. No actual consequences....take that back....they might be put on "social probation" and not get to be in a sorority. Oh! No! How tragic!

College involves more than study and work. The "fun" element at this university is "getting drunk before, during, and after events." It's disgusting that students do it, that administration tolerate it and that parents have condoned it by their own actions. Parents can't say "don't drink" if they do it themselves. All this makes for loud nights, people wandering into your room and not remembering it because they were drunk, total obliteration of any so-called "honor code", and an overall obnoxious place to live and study. Of course this is only for those students who count their time at a university of higher learning as a privilege and a responsibility. Unfortunately, the majority of kids have the "I'm entitled" or "It's not my job description" mentality and this ruins an otherwise lovely experience for the real students.

The "Honor Code" might as well be a menu from McDonalds. People have entered her room without permission and have taken food, toiletries, and clothes without permission. I asked if they had ever stolen her books....but then they would have to actually read wouldn't they. They have no respect for other persons belongings or their time.

She fits into this university academically, but not socially. She has more moral values in one finger than the majority of students there have in their whole being. I am proud of her for standing by her convictions, and I ache for her because she belongs somewhere else.

Does she just whine and complain? No. She has a plan. To transfer. She knows what she needs to do to get into her dream university and sets out to do it. So, what happened? The dream university wants a 3.5 GPA and she has a 3.0. Yes, she took the very difficult courses, and that could have been taken into account. But there was one course that made all the difference in a negative way.

Beware parents of entering freshmen.......check carefully into the FYP (First Year Program) courses. The idea is great....have an FYP course based on where they live, what dorm.....have groups of students meet with a professor, get to know him, get to know the others and have this professor be their advisor. Sounds good you say, eases them into college? Wrong! The courses are feeble at best...vague philosophy, religion, nature courses....involving a meeting and e-mails to the professor. No syllabus, no indication of what to do for an A, no tests....field trips to Jack Daniels distillery (there's a good one for the drinking problem on campus)....completely worthless for transfer to another college. This rinky dink course garnished 4 hours....Yes! A FOUR HOUR COURSE OF NOTHING! (At best this only deserved 2 hours) And what does the ignorant professor do at the end......HE GIVES EVERYONE A B!!! Does he not know what four hours of a B will do to the overall GPA. In Nyssa's case it meant the difference between being waitlisted at William and Mary and being accepted there. She did everything he told them to do. Never did he give them any indication of what their final grade would be...no midterm grade....no nothing. In this type of course everyone should have gotten an A. Such arrogance on the part of a professor that he should think his FYP deserved to be such a force in student's grade averages. Oh, but the saddest part is that FYP was not a requirement....they made it sound like it was, but it wasn't if you actually read the fine print. She could have lived in the dorm and not participated in any of the FYP's; and instead could have taken a legitimate history course that would transfer.

Take note Sewanee, University of the South....you will drive away all your serious students if you continue to cater to the wealthy, socialite airheads because of the big donations. You will start dropping down on the list because of your party school status. In the span of one year I have gone from having never heard of the university, to marveling in its setting and the beauty of the campus, to being disappointed in the student life atmosphere of Greek life and drunken parties, to being livid at the method for assigning rooms and advisors (FYP), to wishing I had never even heard of Sewanee.

We will wait, we will hope for that acceptance letter from her dream school.....and I still believe she will end up where she can fit in and learn and grow and be happy....in spite of Sewanee rather than with the help of them.

Finally at the end of a mother's rantings, this is for you Nyssa "Illegitimis non carborundum." I'm sure you'll have no trouble translating this.

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