College Days

My eldest started college last week, which has got me thinking about my own college days at Eastern. You’d think that a strong introvert would have dreaded moving into an entirely new social situation and forced to make relationships 1, but in many ways I’d go back to college in a heartbeat.

Maybe if I’d gone to a larger school, with the accompanying factory mentality that is too often part of undergraduate work these days, perhaps my experience would be different. But I didn’t go to a large school, I went to a small Christian college 2 which was seen as a bit of a black sheep among other Christian colleges for a variety of reasons 3. For four years my job was to read lots of books, try to solve all the theological problems of the world with my friends, or hang out in my professors’ offices after class. I got to hang around, and study, people who knew stuff, and expected me to be interested in the stuff they knew. It was metaphorical heaven. To this day I still strive to surround myself with people love to learn and muse. College revealed that side of me.

So as my daughter begins her college journey that’s what I hope for her. I hope she’ll discover the joy of learning rather assuming she already knows. I hope her biases are challenged, her convictions become internalized, and her ability to hear dissenting thoughts is strengthened 4. Because that’s what college should be – learning how to think well.

  1. And apparently one of the personality tests we had to take during orientation flagged me as someone who was likely to struggle, not continue my education, and possibly drop out. I still remember laughing at my advisor. 
  2. Now it’s a university, I never updated my degree. 
  3. No curfew, no mandatory chapel attendance, we didn’t immediately expel LGBT students (a stance with which I disagreed at the time, to be honest), etc. 
  4. As well as to recognize the difference between actual dissent and monstrous opinion. 


  1. Ah, yes. I, too, went to a small Christian college, and loved the experience. Graduate school at a state university was such a culture shock–I didn’t even attend the biggest campus, but it was sure huge to me. And while my own school had a dry campus policy (no alcohol anywhere on school grounds) which helped stem the tide of drunken students (though there sure were anyway, with a bar a block away, but still, few got kicked out for it), my grad university had such a problem with alcohol two freshmen died my first year there from falling: one fell out of a balcony at a party, one fell off the stadium bleachers while drunk. And yet, no crackdown was made against drinking.
    It was sad.

    1. wezlo says:

      Ugh. Eastern was a dry campus, but there were no rules about drinking off campus. I don’t know the wider practices, but my friends would go out, have a drink, and come back. Getting drunk was considered dumb.

    2. Agreed. We all preferred to make runs to family restaurants at 2am for pie. Probably explains my sugar addiction…

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