Thursday, July 16, 2015


 Nathan and I just had some mother/son time--2 days of orientation!  We drove down Monday night and stayed at a hotel so we didn't have to get up super early to drive Tuesday morning.  As it turned out, we could have either slept in that morning or driven down then, because we did not have to get there as early as we did!  We arrived and parked, getting over to the student center by 8:30.  Nathan registered, picking up a cheaply made string backpack that broke a few minutes later filled with a nice t-shirt (which he is wearing above) and some other trinkets.  I registered as well and paid for my room and 3 meals on campus.  We stopped in at a coffee for the Corps of Cadets, where we met the AFROTC officer and chatted for a minute, and then we wandered around the resource fair, picking up more trinkets for a long time, since we didn't actually have to be at the main intro session until 10:30.  Ah well, live and learn.

The morning session was pretty peppy, and I have gotten very cynical in my old age, as it turns out.  Well, actually I was never that enthusiastic in crowd settings before either, LOL.  Several people gave speeches, and I was very impressed with their speaking skills, since they didn't use notes.  Eventually 30 of the peppiest, cheeriest, most enthusiastic students on campus came up to lead the new students around in groups.  They all trotted off to eat lunch and have their own presentations.  We parents got box lunches which we could eat anywhere.  I sat on a comfy chair in the student center and read the book I brought, The Sports Gene:  Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance, by David Epstein.   What an interesting book!  I can hardly put it down!  I gave my AP biology boys for this year a choice of a few books to read over the summer, and this is one of them, so I thought I should read it too.  It gets great reviews on Amazon, and I have not been disappointed!

After lunch, we parents went back in the ballroom (I sat in the back half of the room because the chairs were more comfortable and also spread slightly more apart--I was sandwiched closely between Nathan and a large guy during the morning session!) for more presentations by a wide variety of people from every different office you can imagine on a college--resident life, police, dining services, student advocacy, counseling, medical center, financial aid, etc.  There were 12 presentations in all over 3 hours, with 2 ten minute breaks.  It was grueling!  I got the sense that the administration really cares for the students and wants them to succeed, though, so that was nice.  Honestly though, I felt like the presentations were geared more for helicopter-type parents (although they say they never use that word!), because they were just full of a lot of info that I really had never even thought to be concerned about or even really cared all that much about, and that is pretty much all somewhere online.  When I think about going through this 9 more times, I make a mental note to sit in the very back and read my book, LOL.

Eventually Nathan and I met back up again, and we went to a session introducing us to the Corps.  There was no peppy cheerleading here, so I felt a lot better about it!  I really like the Corps, and it really seems like they want each cadet to succeed as well.  They showed a graphic with the average cadet GPA the first year back in 1992 being a 2. something (3 maybe?  I should have written it down), and that has trended upward, with last year it being a 3.1.  They really help the cadets learn how to manage their time, and what they're doing seems to be working.  Plus, as speakers in the other session kept emphasizing, you have to make the big university become smaller by finding a support group of close friends--that is provided in the Corps.

Then we headed off to an engineering orientation meeting.  It was good, but I don't remember any details.  I was pretty hungry by this point, LOL.  Actually, what I kept thinking was, "I am SO glad I'm not pregnant!"  Ha!  Finally we were able to make the long trek back to the van where we got our overnight stuff and checked into our 2 dorms.  The parents stayed in a renovated dorm with air conditioning and these humongous rooms.  I think the rooms were literally twice the size of Amy's and my room in college.  And each room had a private bathroom.  Nice!

Nathan and I met up again for dinner in the main dining hall, which has a bunch of different stations and is all-you-can-eat.  It was super-crowded and a bit overwhelming.  I was really hungry, so I just looked for the shortest line and got some Indian food.  One point everyone made a zillion times was how great the food is there (ranked #1 in the nation!), and the head of the dining services even said, "If your student comes home at Thanksgiving and doesn't eat your food, it's not our fault!"  I have to say my tikka masala is better than theirs, LOL.  But it was nice, and I could see that they have a ton of variety, so no one will get bored with the food.  I did note the next morning at breakfast that they do not have Cocoa Puffs as a cereal option, as good colleges should, so I could not give it my highest approval, unfortunately.

The dining hall was really crowded so we asked a family if we could share a table with them.  They were super-nice, as actually all the parents were that I interacted with, and we sat around chatting for another half an hour after our kids left to meet up with their groups for more games/fun.  Then I went back to my room, where I sat in the absolute silence and read for a long time, interrupted only by phone calls with my mom and with Bob, and with texts from Amy and Luke.  It was sooo heavenly!  I skipped out on the "parents reception" with a cash bar and everything for this time of peace and quiet, and it was so totally the right choice for me!

The next morning we ate breakfast and then Nathan had his advising session.  He was in a room with a bunch of other engineering students, each at a computer.  The department had pre-registered everyone for classes, based on AP/DE credit.  Nathan came in with 30 credits, so that helped.  He was most delighted that his 4 on AP lit got him out of both semesters of freshman writing!  He'll be taking chemistry, multivariable calculus, intro to engineering, his Corps/ROTC classes, and a lit class (because they have to take some classes from different areas to be well-rounded).  The speakers the day before mentioned a dozen times as least "Moms and dads, you WILL be separated from your sons and daughters during their advising sessions", as if that was going to be hugely distressing or something.  There was an advisor or 2 circling the kids in the room, helping whoever had questions, and it was fine.  Nathan and I had discussed beforehand some things he might ask about, but I really wasn't worried at all that he wouldn't be able to deal with anything that came up.  I went to a parents of engineering session, with another good extemporaneous speaker who was pretty funny as well.

Then we headed off to get all the ROTC stuff in order.  Lots of paperwork, fittings in the tailor shop, etc.  While Nathan was busy there, a cadet took up parents over to see a room.  The cadets will have to be 3 to a room for awhile, because the new dorm they are constructing is not yet finished.  The rooms will be . . .  tight . .  with 3 beds, dressers, and desks in there.  This picture is from the doorway.  One bed is lofted, with a desk and dresser under it.  The closet is on the right, past the sink.
 This picture is taken from the window, and you can see the other 2 beds bunked, with one desk in the middle of the room, and one desk against the wall (where the boy is sitting), and one dresser under the bed.  The third dresser is in the closet.  The commandant of the Corps said they are having "Operation Light Load" when everyone moves in, with everyone encouraged to bring the absolute minimum!  Fortunately new cadets don't need all that much, since they can't have anything decorative, any civilian clothes, etc.
 So then we did some running around, picking up Nathan's computer, getting his student ID card, etc.  While he was finishing that, I drove over to Taco Bell and picked up lunch, which we ate in the car as we were driving home.  We ended up leaving a little after 1:00, and we got home around 6:00, with evening traffic.  Just in time for me to go to a swim meet!  Back to my normal, loud life, LOL.

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