Smiles all around

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Smiles all around
By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 09:03 pm: Edit

OK, after reading about sobs and tears, I thought I'd post something joyful about dropping daughter off at college. None of us cried. Instead, Mom, Dad, and Daughter were happy and excited. Knock on wood, I think daughter living in a dorm at a nearby Boston area college all summer gave us all the two month transition we needed.

The drive down to Phila (in two cars) was grueling. There is just no fun way to get from Boston to Philadelphia -- a hard seven hours door to door. When we finally rendezvous'd at the hotel, I joked that maybe Bowdoin (1.5 hours from home) would have been a better choice!

We arrived Monday night in time to visit campus and got an RA to unlock D's dorm room. (Had to pry him away from unboxing a brand new 56-inch widescreen HDTV for the dorm common room). Afterwards, we ate at a nice Thai restaurant near campus and then did a late night final run to Target, also about a mile away from campus.

We were at the dorm before the official 9:00 start the next morning and, with the help of the welcome crew, had two carloads of stuff in D's room within an hour -- a service elevator made easy work of the refrigerator.

Roommate and roomate's mom arrived about 10, having flown in from California and stayed in downton Phila. the night before. They had been chatting by e-mail for a week, so the two roommates hit it off from the start. Students went off to do the key and ID card registration, while we took a parents tour of the support facilities (health center, security, dean's office, yadda, yadda).

After lunch, kids attended orientation session with Deans. Parents went to Q & A sessions with a student panel and then a panel consisting of the Pres., the Dean, and the Provost. I can only hope that my daughter is as down to earth and engaging as the five students on the panel when she is a senior. The Dean of the college was very impressive.

At 4:30, kids and parents met up for a brief reception and we said our goodbyes. The emotion was excitement, not sadness. D is ready and we parents are so darn thrilled with her college choice that it was fun to give her a hug and send her on her way. Mom and I then spent another hour or so wandering around looking at some parts of campus neither of us had seen -- the new sushi bar in the science center (fabulous space with soaring ceilings, glass, wood, and stainless steel) and the equisite gardens that dot the campus.

Spending an extended period of time on campus confirmed everything we thought about the college. This is place that challenges the students to the extreme, but also provides extreme levels of support so they can do it. Most impressive moment: my wife introduced herself to the Dean of the College and told him my daughter's name. He paused for a moment and then correctly rattled off the title of her main application essay and the subject of her "Why Swarthmore?" essay. Seems that he had spent the summer reading most of the application essays of the incoming freshmen students. Wow. I think that captures the essence of a small liberal arts college.

By Momofthree (Momofthree) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 09:17 pm: Edit

What a great day! I am so happy for you and your DD. Amazing that the Dean took the time to read the essays. As I ponder this I can imagine the essays would be very affirming to him and reading them would be a wonderful exercise, but to remember and single out one . . .amazing. Congrats!

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 09:21 pm: Edit

I'm equally impressed!
Oh gosh, 3 weeks to go...

By Simba (Simba) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 09:22 pm: Edit

wish us all the same luck.

By Achat (Achat) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 09:30 pm: Edit

Interesteddad, we had a great time too, albeit in the end, my son was a little forlorn, so I came home in a bad mood. I was wondering all along if you were there. But I know your daughter and could not find her, so I could not identify you. Were you the one who asked 'How would you characterize this generation?' I thought it could be you.. :-)

We were there till the end too but my son did not come for the tea...don't know where he was.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 09:47 pm: Edit

>> But I know your daughter and could not find her, so I could not identify you. Were you the one who asked 'How would you characterize this generation?' I thought it could be you.. :-)

Lord no. That wasn't me! What an insufferable bore. I loved it when he asked the question the second time and the whole audience lowered their heads and snickered.

I asked the "Writing Associates" question in the students' panel -- figured I would keep it rather bland! I actually had some questions I would have loved to ask, but it wasn't the time or place.

I walked up to two different Indian mothers and asked if they were Achat. After getting blank stares, I quit while I was ahead! By any chance, did your husband ask the "How to make the school better known?" question?

We purposely ditched my daughter and her roomate early in the day for the 11:00 parents tour. My wife wanted to do a little more "unpacking" and I told her "No. Stop it. They are perfectly capable of setting up their own room!" We linked back up with my daughter for lunch and then saw her for about 10 minutes at the reception for our goodbyes hugs.

The reception was a great place for goodbyes as it avoided the lonely feeling of parent walking away from student in empty dormroom that my father went through with me. That is a toughie.

I wouldn't worry about Achat, Jr. I found the whole experience to be very tiring -- and the high humidity didn't help. My wife and I were worn out and I could tell that my daughter needed to go back to the dorm, shower, and recharge, too.

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 09:47 pm: Edit

Congrats!Please let us know how she likes college and life in Phila. town and how it goes as am curious on an outsider's opinion of the area. By the way, we loved your area which we vacationed in this past summer!
Oh Achat!: You have a student in Philly too!Would also be interested in youir opinions!!

By Achat (Achat) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 09:52 pm: Edit

BHG: Sure. We'll visit again soon, I am sure. Will let you know.

Interesteddad, my husband did not ask any questions. Ah well, maybe next time. And my son also knows who your daughter is, so ...

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 10:02 pm: Edit


Phila. is very comfortable to my daughter. IMO, Phila and Boston are as similar as two cities can be. The accents are little different, but the history, ethnic neighborhoods, suburbs, and attitude are very similar. For example, sports fans in both Phila and Boston would boo Santa Claus during halftime of a December football game.

It's hard not to love Swarthmore's environs. It's the best of all worlds -- a campus that is an idyllic garden spot, located in a beautiful neighborhood, but with a mall and the whole nine yards of shopping (Best Buy, Target, etc.) half a mile from campus. I would guess that property values in the Village of Swarthmore are pretty lofty.

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 10:12 pm: Edit

That sounds like a great send off! Thanks for sharing about it.

Yes, that sounds really neat that the dean had read the essays and moreover, remembered your daughter's!

Sometimes, when I think of the thousands they read, I think our kids are just some number or some such. But when I attended the open house for admitted students at Tufts, I was waiting in line for a panel and starting chatting with this young man who looked the age of the incoming students but he had on a jacket and tie and a name tag that said he was an admissions officer! He truly looked no older than 20! And he read my name tag. He was not my child's regional adcom. But, he asked if my daughter was "first name" and I was in amazement that he would recall the first name of an applicant who was not even from the region he was in charge of when there are so many thousands of applicants. So, if I was impressed with that, I can only imagine the essay anecdote you had!


By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 10:15 pm: Edit

Yes, Swarthmore is very nice. I certainly agree.I knew a girl once who rented a room from a family in the area. There are plenty of rooms in homes to rent and even deals that can be stuck for discounts if the students does some cleaning or cooking or babysitting.Did you stay in town during your convention?

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 10:29 pm: Edit

We stayed out in Media, about 10 minutes from campus.

Our original plan was to stay downtown and maybe get reservations at Morimoto's restaurant. I'm glad we didn't this time around. To tell you the truth, we were all so tired after the drive down, that we wouldn't have really enjoyed a big night out on the town. A nice quiet Thai meal was just what the doctor ordered. I had the worst of it, because I did the 7 hour drive solo, while my wife and daughter drove the other car.

Same thing with my wife and I after the drop-off day. We were beat. Nice hot shower and quiet meal in an Italian restaurant near Swarthmore was just the ticket. Neither of us had the energy to go into downtown Phila. after trudging up and down the hill at Swarthmore all day.

There will be other visits for Iron Chef sushi, South Street, and that sort of thing. I did take a little detour to drive through Haverford and Bryn Mawr's campuses this morning on my way out of town -- I had never seen them.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 09:54 am: Edit

Interesteddad -- glad it went so well, and I really liked the title of your thread.

I hear you on the drive -- we do DC to Providence, which is a bit longer but the same awful route. We've managed to find some alternatives to avoid traffic, which are more pleasant but not shorter. Now if YOUR D was in Providence, and MINE was near Philly, we'd both have it easier, lol...

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 11:33 am: Edit

I learned all the secrets of avoiding NYC back in my college days. I'd rather be dropped in a vat of boiling oil than drive the George Washington Bridge/Cross Bronx Expressway route!

From Phila, we take the NJ Turnpike to the Garden State Parkway North to I-87/287 East across the Tappen Zee Bridge to the Saw Mill Parkway North to I-684 North to I-84 East thru Hartford to the Mass Pike (I-90 East).

As long as you avoid rush hour, it's really not a bad route at all. But, it's still a heavily travelled route from start to finish and not like just hopping on an interstate in the middle of nowhere and setting the cruise control.

I tried the northwest route around Phila this time -- I-476 north to I-276 over to the Jersey turnpike. I think that is far better to Swat than the whole Cherry Hill/So. Jersey bridge to Phila routes around the south side of Phila.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 11:36 am: Edit

Yes, we've done the Tappan Zee route, as well as an even more "western" route through Scranton! I'm mapping out alternatives for our trip to Providence next week (on Friday of Labor Day weekend, the day after the Republican convention ends ... it WON'T be good).

We have done the GW Bridge, etc., twice now, and have actually had no problem, but I think that was a matter of timing. We've avoided it when we expected bad traffic.

By Elleneast (Elleneast) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 11:46 am: Edit

" my wife introduced herself to the Dean of the College and told him my daughter's name. He paused for a moment and then correctly rattled off the title of her main application essay and the subject of her "Why Swarthmore?" essay."

Whoa, amazing.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 12:22 pm: Edit

>> I'm mapping out alternatives for our trip to Providence next week (on Friday of Labor Day weekend, the day after the Republican convention ends ... it WON'T be good).

We have routinely used the Scranton route when headed south -- then down I-81 in western VA.

For your Providence trip, I would go a day early. Traffic will be non-existent in NYC during the convention.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 12:32 pm: Edit

>> Whoa, amazing.

Believe me, it floored my wife, too.

My daughter had said that the adcoms were "freaking all of us out" at the pre-frosh visit by reciting each students profile from memory upon meeting. But, for the Dean of the college to be that familiar with the essays really drives home how much weight is placed on things other than scores and grades at these types of schools.

BTW, this Dean was very impressive in every regard -- clearly an institution at the college and clearly someone who loves the students and vice versa. Tremendous sense of humor.

He apparently had the incoming freshmen doing Stuart Smiley self-affirmation chants during their orientation session as he tried to brace them for the fact that each and every one of them would be getting their butts kicked academically for the first time in their lives:

Dean: "Oh my god, a C+"

Students in unison: "I AM a worthy person and, dog-gone-it, people like me!"

To parents who can't get their kid to call home for months at a time, he offered this advice for a sure-fire phone call:

Write them a nice letter telling them how proud you are of them. Tell them that you are enclosing a $50 check for them to take a couple of friends out for a nice dinner. Then, don't enclose the check....

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 12:50 pm: Edit

"For your Providence trip, I would go a day early. Traffic will be non-existent in NYC during the convention."

Unfortunately we can't for various reasons. I'm now trying to figure out what is the best time for us to depart DC to minimize chances of heavy traffic -- any suggestions (other than 2 a.m.)?

By Garland (Garland) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 12:55 pm: Edit

LOL--I've heard the check advice before; it's still funny!

For three years while D was at Wes, we used the Tappan Zee route to get to CT from NJ. I avoided the GWB whenever possible. Now, S is in NYC, so there's no avoiding!

We dropped him off yesterday. The bridge was awful, but luckily, it was MUCH worse approaching in the express lanes, and we were in local. Otherwise, we wouldn't be there yet.

The dropoff went well. D was a real help in being S's "interior decorator". Met some nice hallmates (most are not there yet, because he's on a pre-orientation trip.)

The house is very quiet. We don't live too far away, but we agreed he should not come home before November, to make settling in the priority.I will really miss him, though, because he is the most even-tempered member of the family, just very easy to be around.

But, he looked so excited to be there, that it made it easy to say good-bye!

By Idler (Idler) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 03:07 pm: Edit

Interstddad:thanks for the uplifting post. There is indeed no good route from Boston to Phila, the Tappan Zee and Merrit Parkway (West Haven to 287) is the best we've come up with, but it is frequently a nightmare too, and the trip is too long for an early start to get you past rush hour--you hit it somewhere. E Z Pass helps.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 04:03 pm: Edit

>> E Z Pass helps.

Thanks. I'm looking into that. The constant stops for tolls definitely slow the trip down.

Poor me. I had all my change in the car's change holder for the endless 35 cent Garden State Pkwy tolls. I was down to my last 35 cents when I rolled into an exact change booth for the final toll and then promptly proceeded to dump the toll on the ground! So, there I sat, in an exact change lane, with nothing smaller than a $5 bill and a hundred cars lined up behind me!

I wish New Hampshire would hurry up and install EZ Pass. That's where I pay most of my tolls locally.

By Northeastdad (Northeastdad) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 04:06 pm: Edit

Idler: We mostly take the route Merit Parkway -> Saw Mill -> Hudson -> GWB to avoid cross Bronx. Problem with Tapan Zee is there is never-ending construction.

InterestedDad and Achat: We dropped D at Swat on 24th too. She is in Wharton, so she is close to Achat's son. She seem to be very happy and excited, so was I. But mom started crying when we were leaving. Our son is 22 and works 150 miles away, and she still cries everytime he leaves after a weekend; so I am not surprised.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 04:43 pm: Edit

I sailed across the Tappen Zee both ways (early afternoon) with no delays at all, except for a slight backup at the eastbound tolls. I looked jealously at the EZPass lanes, which were totally empty!

My wife and I both thought that we would cry on drop-off day. But, honestly, we were so excited for my daughter, that it was a happy time.

My daughter has been steadily immersing herself in Swarthmore starting with her overnight in October, her joy at getting accepted in December, her pre-frosh visit in April, and regular chat-room and e-mail communication with other students. So, by this week, she was already a Swattie and felt very comfortable with the place. I think that made a HUGE difference for all of us. There really wasn't a sense of the great unknown.

Also, her friends starting leaving for college three weeks ago, so that's been a gradual process as well. After each of those goodbyes, I saw the only moments of sadness.

My wife said that dropping her off in the dorm-room in Cambridge at the beginning of the summer was emotionally harder than this week -- not to mention physically harder with a fifth floor room! She was only home for four nights in between the end of her summer program and leaving for Swat Monday morning.

I would say that the biggest trepidation is the academic workload. However, all of us are going into it with a mindset of lowered expectations grade-wise, rather than ratcheting up the pressure level. Also, my daughter seems to have bought into the support mechanism in a sensible way: taking the intro writing course, signing up for the Student Academic Mentor program, etc. The students on the panel the other day really emphasized that all Swatties benefit from using these support programs early and often. It's almost built into the structure of the college -- my daughter's dorm wing has 14 freshmen interspersed with 11 juniors and seniors, so informal mentoring is almost impossible to avoid.

It was very reassuring to hear President Bloom say that, if your child has been accepted by the Admissions Department, you can be sure that they are capable of handling the work.

By Northeastdad (Northeastdad) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 05:18 pm: Edit

InterestdedDad, your daughter seem to be a real fit for Swat. I think Dean remembered her essay because it was outstanding. (I refuse to believe any person can remember 375 essays with corresponding names.)

By Mom60 (Mom60) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 05:43 pm: Edit

Swarthmore sounds wonderful. My friends brother went there some 30 odd years ago and he still glows when he speaks of Swarthmore.

By Elleneast (Elleneast) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 05:51 pm: Edit


If your son is going on the camping trip expect him to return from it hungry! We came up for the parent orientation session the day after our daughter's return from her trip and watched in amazement as she inhaled multiple sandwiches at lunch....then she tackled multiple desserts.

It was comforting for me to sit outside at a cafe on Broadway (as she stuffed her face!) and have people walk by and say hello to her. It made it easier for me to get in the car and leave her knowing that she already had made connections.

I wish all incoming first years such a happy transition to college life.

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 05:52 pm: Edit

Some people are born to be deans of admissions. I have only two kids but I keep on mixing their names up!

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 06:53 pm: Edit

>> I think Dean remembered her essay because it was outstanding.

Her mother and I would love to believe that. But, in truth, I think that Swarthmore gets a lot of excellent essays. I've read a few from my daughter trading essays with people that were really exceptional. I'm guessing that Dean Gross would have been able to identify a LOT of students in talking with the parents.

In his talk with the incoming freshmen, Dean Gross had said that the Dean of Admissions had sent over a large number of essays for him to read over the summer. I think what probably happened is that Admissions selected unusual or interesting essay packages to send over to the Dean to give him a good sense of the make-up of the class.

That sort of thing is always destined to be a mystery, I suppose. My daughter did make two specific Swarthmore-related contacts -- one made during a meeting on her overnight campus visit and one the result of a letter she sent to a Swat alum this summer -- who told her they would be bringing her inner-city teaching to the "powers that be" on campus. Without going into too much detail, both contacts were in positions to do so. So, it is possible that the Dean had an eye out for her essays. I'm dying of curiosity, but will never know!

What was gratifying is that the things he mentioned about both essays were specifically intended to create an identity -- things she had discussed with us in strategizing seessions a year ago. After reading "The Gatekeepers", she decided to title her main essay with the nickname she hoped would be used for her in the Admisssions office -- a nickname that one of her students had used for her last summer. So, my wife just about fainted on Tuesday when the Dean said, "Oh, you must be Math Girl's mom!"

The second thing he mentioned was both her parents being Williams alum. I would hazard a guess that hers was the only "Wny Swat?" essay this year that began with the opening sentence, "Williams College would have been the easy choice." Again, a conscious effort on her part to try to stand out from the same old same old (and one that she was mildly nervous about).

Actually, my daughter was embarrassed when we told her about the Dean's comments. I think she would have much preferred anonymity.

By Garland (Garland) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 08:26 pm: Edit

Thanks for the tip, Elleneast. I have a feeling the "healthy" food on the trip will leave him starving!

ID: I think that's a benefit of ED: they've been picturing how they fit at the school for eight months, now. He's totally happy to be there, and I know the converse after seeing my D know, pretty much from the start, that she didn't fit at her first school.

YOur D's experiences sound truly wonderful!

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 09:28 pm: Edit

>> ID: I think that's a benefit of ED: they've been picturing how they fit at the school for eight months, now.

Definitely. My daughter shifted gears in December and started looking at course offerings, etc.

Instead of going to pre-frosh days in April trying to make a decision, she used the visit to sit-in on specific classes with an eye towards a freshman schedule. She also had a fabulous time with hosts that were definitely "college" and not "high school". She came home beaming.

At the same time, we changed from "high school" parenting to "college" parenting in terms of curfews and the like. It's a little hard to let go like that, but I think it helped her with the transition from living at home to being responsible for her own decisions.

By Valpal (Valpal) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 12:42 am: Edit

Interesteddad, I'm so happy to read that drop-off day was joyous for your family. We were in that vacinity wednesday also, taking our D to Bryn Mawr. What a crazy and exciting time! The weather was just as you described it, humid and energy sapping. But overall, the day turned out wonderfully. I think that the four roommates (D is in a three room quad) will get along well, in that they all seemed very relaxed and easygoing, with a good many things in common.

I must admit that I was holding it together very well, clear up until the moment we hugged to say goodbye. Out of nowhere, I was flooded with emotion, and the tears just flowed. We stood holding each other for a short time, both crying, while I told her how very proud she'd made me. And then, we parted and laughed. She had to get to a meeting with her customs group, so I watched as she and her roommates walked across campus together, totally engaged in converstation. It was a comforting picture. I knew then that she would be just fine.

She called briefly from Haverford's campus thursday night while waiting for the Blue Bus that would take them to Bryn Mawr, a mile up the road. Haverford hosted a dance for the frosh of both schools and D reported that it had been great fun. Tomorrow night, Bryn Mawr will play host. D got to tour Haverford for the first time, and said that though the schools don't look very much alike, they have a similar "feel" (whatever that means). She's not yet seen Swarthmore, but since it's part of the Tri-Co Consortium, she will no doubt be taking classes there at some point. Swat is the only Tri-Co school that offers a major in Linguistics, and she is somewhat interested in the field. At this point, she's leaning toward a course of study in Physics, but of course, that could easily change.

I love the idea of the Tri-Co. It draws on the strengths of three wonderful institutions, and makes each school better than it would be alone. What were your impressions of Haverford and Bryn Mawr?

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 01:12 am: Edit

I really didn't get a good look at either Haverford or Bryn Mawr. I was trying to do a quick drive-by on Wednesday morning with a 7 hour drive home in front of me. Because it was moving in day at both schools, I was hampered by the traffic.

I pulled into what I think was the main entrance to Haverford -- a long road past a small little pond. But, as I drove up the hill towards the campus buidings, freshman traffic was backed up about a quarter mile, so I turned tail and left.

It took me a while to even find the Bryn Mawr campus. I did what I think was a lap of the outside of campus, but again unloading traffic kept me from driving into the campus proper. I did get one view of the interior of campus -- the large gray buildings overlooking a steep hill. It looked absolutely gorgeous. Overall, it seemed perhaps a bit more densely laid out than Swarthmore, which has large expanses of open land separating it from the town on one side and undeveloped forest land on the other.

That commercial districts along Lancaster Road in Haverford and Bryn Mawr are much more densely developed. The town of Swarthmore is almost entirely residential (the college was built on farm land long before the town), but there is "miracle mile" new commercial development (malls, restaurants, strip centers, car dealerships) on the Baltimore Pike about a half mile from campus.

With their old-money near-suburban Philly locations and Quaker roots, I think Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore have more similarities than differences.

By Archermom (Archermom) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 02:49 am: Edit

Valpal, our D is a first yr at Haverford. We dropped her off at Bryn Mawr on the 15th for the Tri-Co Summer Institute a week before Customs...beautiful campus! The following Sunday, the students were taken to their respective campuses to start settling into their dorm rooms before the arrival of the rest of their classmates. We heard from D about 4 times since then, but I have not talked to her since Tuesday evening. She had a brief conversation with her sister wonder, Haverford was hosting a dance!!! LOL I did point out that she sounded good...she corrected me with, "VERY good!" So, all is well.

By Achat (Achat) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 09:02 am: Edit

Interesteddad, is registration on Aug 29th? I forgot to ask. 29th is my son's birthday, so we're thinking of an appropriate time to call.

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 09:07 am: Edit

Valpal, glad to hear how happy your daughter sounds. I am teary eyed reading of your "goodbye". Tell your daughter, that she can always major in one field in college and another in grad school! When I read her interests in Physics and Linguistics, it reminded me of my much younger sister in law. She majored in Physics at Williams but got her doctorate in Linguistics at Berkeley and is a Linguistics professor. So, as an undergraduate, your daughter can just go for whereever her interests take her and it is not necessarily a career decision.

It sounds like all of your kids are having a lot of fun so far! I keep thinking that the week of orientation that my D has coming up will be really fun and then they will have to honker down and actually start classes, shucks.


By Patient (Patient) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 10:24 am: Edit

Have been lurking a bit and just wanted to say that I appreciate everyone's posts on all of these "departure" threads so much. There are similar ones on the high school baseball website too, full of loving parents with their various but always emotional reactions to their children leaving for college. I get tears in my eyes a lot as I read, and you are helping me prepare for my son's departure (emotionally prepare), as much as one can ever do that.

He is going through all the goodbye parties, lunches, dinners with his closest friends as they depart, one by one, and a couple of times I have seen a bit of a quiver in his lip after a particularly special one makes me sad but I am hoping that they will have joyful reunions back home in just a few months, with adventures to share. His school doesn't start until the 3rd week of September and so while I have the pleasure of having him around, it may be hard on him a bit.

Good luck to all of you (us) and hope all of the kids find themselves happily engaged in all that college has to offer! I'll send a post after son moves in.

By Musicmom (Musicmom) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 10:58 am: Edit

We dropped off our eldest to college yesterday.
I was not looking forward to it.....I am the emotional Mom and he is the 18 year old son of few words. We are close but he is even tighter with his father as they are both musicians and have a strong bond in that also.

He is in a 10 story traditional cinder block high rise freshman dorm. Very sterile and unappealing to me; he seems not to mind.
Move in was choatic as expected but with many wonderful BIG upperclassmen volunteers to help lug the 'stuff'.

Met the roomie and his parents and they seem great. Of course, they had arrived quite a bit earlier. His bed was made up, computer connected, food and supplies stored. We are classically late and behind the curve!
The room actually has plenty of storage- high chest of drawers, underbed drawers, big closets.
Nice surprise.
Spent an hour quickly emptying boxes and bags.....missed the 'parents forum' of course.

Then we headed off to try find an instrument locker in the music building for the much-too-large TUBA. No dice. That person wasn't available, call later, etc. etc.

So we ended up dropping him and tuba back at the dorm and he tried to escape with a quick typical 'See ya'. I would have liked a hug but had to settle for a pat and a 'You're OK, Mom'.

Sigh. Cried (quietly, I hope) in the car on the way home; Husband was quite silent in thought as he drove.

Today, the world seems as it should be. Son is where he wants to be and we helped him get there. Even his empty room isn't distressing me (except for a few stray DIRTY socks left in the middle of his floor!).

To all parents here: hope your transitions go well too. And congrats for raising a child to successful adulthood!

By Patient (Patient) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 11:06 am: Edit

Dirty socks comment made me smile. Musicmom, you and your son sound a bit like me and mine (emotional/man of few words).

Son comes home late at night usually from being with friends and takes his shoes off right inside the front door to tread quietly on his way to his room. I am looking at those shoes as I write and tears are in my eyes thinking of how I will miss seeing them...funny, a couple of weeks ago I thought I was just fine and just happy for him!

By Musicmom (Musicmom) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 11:47 am: Edit


I'm glad to hear I'm not the only sentimental mom out there!

Best to you and your son.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 12:09 pm: Edit


I think registration is on Saturday (tomorrow). However, freshman met with their faculty advisors yesterday and entered the lotteries for courses with limited enrollment like the freshmen seminars.

I have no earthly idea what time to try to call. I've gotten e-mails from my D at around 5:00 pm and just before midnight.

They are supposed to have their Swat e-mail accounts active tonight.

By Elleneast (Elleneast) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 01:07 pm: Edit


I love reading your descriptions of Swarthmore. My daughter has a very dear friend who is an incoming sophomore and is the brightest, most free-thinking and funny person that I know. She is soooo happy there. We live about 20 minutes away and my D is going down to visit in a day or two, before she heads back to Columbia. She is really looking forward to it.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 01:50 pm: Edit

>> My daughter has a very dear friend who is an incoming sophomore and is the brightest, most free-thinking and funny person that I know. She is soooo happy there.

I think Swarthmore is the way it is due to equal parts self-selection and tradition.

On self-selection: The reputation for grueling academics combined with non-cutthroat, laid-back lack of pretentiousness and the fact that nobody has heard of the place attracts a particular kind of student.

On tradition: Reading the history of the place, it is clear to me that there is a self-sustaining Swarthmore culture and style. It is shocking how many of the key administrative and faculty postions are filled with Swat alum. The result is a very definite way of doing business that everyone buys into.

I agree with James Michner's analysis that the Quaker roots (simplicity, equality, etc.) and the equal participation of women (inc. on the Board of Managers) are two of the key elements that have shaped the school.

From what I have seen so far, the biggest misperception is that Swarthmore is a "liberal" place. While it is certainly liberal politically and has its share of trendy PC course titles, the overall style of education seems decidedly conservative and old-school. There is a lot of "tough-love" teaching and a pervasive expectation of personal responsibility.

By Garland (Garland) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 02:18 pm: Edit

Well, not to get overly political here, but most liberals I know put a huge premium on personal responsibility!

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 03:33 pm: Edit

I was think more in terms of educational philosophy. For example, a "modern", "liberal", "enlightened" approach in today's schools seems to be, "Oh, poor Johnny. It would be such a blow to his self-esteem to give him a C when he's such a nice kid and his attendance is exemplary."

I don't see that kind touchy-feely, sit around and sing Kumbayah attitude at Swarthmore. It seems decidedly old-school with teachers who are determined to be as challenging as they can possibly be. A definite no pain, no gain mentality.

By Garland (Garland) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 08:37 pm: Edit

". For example, a "modern", "liberal", "enlightened" approach in today's schools seems to be, "Oh, poor Johnny. It would be such a blow to his self-esteem to give him a C when he's such a nice kid and his attendance is exemplary."

I haven't run into that in my town (lower to middle class neighborhood). Definitely not at D's college (Wesleyan). Where do you find it prevalent?

By Valpal (Valpal) on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 03:10 am: Edit

Suzy, thanks so much for the warm thoughts and well wishes. Yes, it was an emotional time, but I've pretty much recovered, and am now ready to tackle the job of preparing my 14 yr. old son for his college search and application process. He's been warned: As the only one left at home, he can now expect my undivided attention. You should have seen the look on his face: I don't think he knew whether he should be happy about that or not---LOL!

As for D, we've spoken several times by phone and exchanged a number of e-mails. She is SOOOO excited---in fact, she's never sounded happier! (Of course, it's only been a couple of days.)
It was so funny: Tonight she calls and tells us about a frosh scavenger hunt she participated in today, and how she won "the coolest hat she's ever owned". "Really?", I said, "What's so cool about it?". "It's a BRYN MAWR hat, Mom!", she says, as if I've just asked the dumbest question in the world---LOL! She's meeting "tons of new people", some of whom she characterizes as "very cool!" And she is avidly studying her course options and looking forward to registering for classes.

I know there will be challenging days ahead for her. Bryn Mawr is no cake walk. In one of the Parents' meetings, The Dean warned us about the academic panic most of our daughters are likely to experience initially. He said, don't be surprised if she calls home, convinced she's flunking college. Like Swarthmore and Haverford, Bryn Mawr takes pride in its rigorous academics and "zero grade inflation". But I think D has prepared herself to work harder than she ever thought possible and to challenge herself to her highest intellectual growth. She is very anxious to get started.

Suzy, I'm looking forward to reading all about college move-in day for you and your wonderful D. Make it a long and detailed account (you know, like most of your posts ). You've prepared her beautifully for what's to come. Step back and watch her take flight.

In anycase, I'm sure that your younger D's last year in high school and college application process will keep you plenty distracted and gosh-awful busy. Good luck on moving day!

By Achat (Achat) on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 08:14 am: Edit

Valpal, good luck to you daughter! Great to hear about your account of move-in day. Same with Archermom and also the other parents here. My son is at Swarthmore nearby.

My son called yesterday with the news that he likes his roommate and girls next door. They are shopping for milk and stuff and putting it in their fridge since they are likely to get up really late and miss breakfast.

Interesteddad, yes, today is registration. My son said he changed his mind about several courses and to wait and see what he ends up taking. Yesterday was a relatively free day in the morning. He also met Robert Gross and was impressed because Dr. Gross made it a point to ask him about his interests and find out who he is.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 08:58 am: Edit

Keep on posting; I'm getting to like Swath more & more. Talking to S's friend about it. I couldn't tell him which LAC is best for history UG, but said advantage of Swath was accessibility to airport.
Off topic, but while S still home, his friends come over as usual. Most of them talk to me, unlike S. I'm really going to miss these guys, some of whom I'm known since they were 4 yo.

By Musicmom (Musicmom) on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 10:20 pm: Edit

Yeah, I'm missing son as I expected I would.
But like Bookworm, I'm also missing my 'other sons'. The four in Son's garage band formed in 6th grade and just now completed a CD of their stuff together before they all scatter.
The other 2 from tiger cubs and boy scouts.
And his longest bud who S has known from day one: they are 6 weeks apart.
The val from up the block who delivered a wonderful address on growing up in a stable neighborhood with longtime friends.

I actually DO have a life and only get to feeling sentimental when I come here and read everyone else's warm stories!
Mmmmmmm. Might need to wean myself off these boards.....
Well, back to work on Tues. THAT might help!

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 12:12 am: Edit

Musicmom, you feel as I do that this whole situation is very sentimental, rather than "sad". And I am a big sap when it comes to sentimental! I mean I am teary eyed reading stories of everyone's sons and daughters on here and they are not even mine!

Valpal, thanks for the wishes and I will "report in" when we get back home next week. I leave on Tuesday and will be back late on Wedesday. Wednesday is the move in day for freshmen orientation at Brown. We have been away on vacation but now are back and in getting ready mode with the one about to leave. So far we have done almost all the "gathering" and our guest room is piled high, cannot see the floor, etc. with my daughter's life. While I have packed my kids up for summers away and that was always a lot of "stuff", this is far more. And I know while I am doing it, that is not like she is coming back home soon as with summer programs. This is really it! I know I am so excited for her and feel she is going to have such a great time with the experiences and group of kids and so on. But when I think about it being the end of her living here and so on, I really do tear up. And yesterday was her 18th birthday, another milestone. My husband bought ME roses on HER birthday cause I think he is being very sentimental that she reached adulthood and is leaving home. Her roomie sent a birthday gift, which was a lovely gesture with a really nice note. I have good feelings there.

I am not one to worry if my D will like it or have a good time. I feel like I know she will. But how I'm gonna feel about not knowing her whereabouts on a daily basis as I have for 18 years, well, that will take adjustment! I say this now as it is really on my mind because at this moment I am even feeling worried (as moms are allowed to feel by nature) til she gets home tonight. I went on a date with my hubby and eventually we fell asleep. I just woke up worrying about my kids' safety! It is raining very heavily and I had seen news reports of another county not far from here where this storm is causing a problem tonight. My older one was supposed to get together with a girl who lives an hour from us who is going to Brown. They met through mutual friends who hooked them up cause they were heading to Brown (and they have since met once), but the other girl had to work unexpectedly tonight and had to cancel. My D's local friends have all left for college. So, it turns out that her sister is going to have kinda a "last night" together with her sister as they will barely see one another all year. So, they headed to the movies which are 50 miles away (remember I live in a rural area). The younger one has gotten around today as I was already in that city with her this morning for acting coach for her college auditions, then back here. Then she got this odd paying job as a dancer at a luau Bat Mitzvah in another resort town about 30 miles away and back home again and then they both went to this city 50 miles away for the night. I woke up to the pouring rain and my mind is playing nasty mom things on me about how they will drive home in this, and you know how it goes. So, my older one, who is mucho mucho responsible and always calls as she arrives at her destination and leaves it (when driving herself)...all of which is going to end when she goes to college!....calls to say they are going for Ben and Jerry's, so not to worry, as they have not left yet, and will call when they leave that city. That calmed my nerves. I don't know why I woke up in this worry mode but now I am thinking, this has gotta end cause when she leaves, I won't know her whereabouts at all. I have always known them, partly cause we live in such a rural area that we always had to take them places and they were not out on their own til they drove. Also, this older one is very reliable and reponsible which has helped as she has never been a source of worry. But as they have yet to leave that city and it is midnight, I ain't going back to sleep! And my nerves won't stop til I see them back safely from that long ride in this downpour. And I am thinking, what am I going to do when she is far away and totally on her own and I have no clue where/when she is going here or there!!! While she has been on the other side of the world and all, it was always in supervised situations for the most part and for some reason, I never worried. I am wondering what this is going to feel like. They just called to say they are leaving now. And if I feel this way with D1, how am I going to feel with D2 who is not as "responsible" in the same way? And that one wants to be at college in NYC which is soooooo on her own. Intellectually, I feel good about it all but this part of being a mommy, when you get nervous if they are ok, I hope does not kick in! Thanks for letting me get this off my mind!

Anyway, I bet you loved that call from your daughter with all her exciting news. I think one really neat thing for these kids is meeting a whole new group of kids from all over. I am psyched for my D, really I am ! ;-)


By Valpal (Valpal) on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 12:21 am: Edit

Thank you, Achat. It occurred to me that our children could meet someday and never know that there's a CC Forum connection between them---LOL!I'm very impressed by everything I've been reading about swarthmore, and I'm so happy that my D has access to this wonderful school. Parent's Weekend at Bryn Mawr is Nov. 5-7. I'd really like to tour the campuses of Haverford and Swarthmore at that time.

By Valpal (Valpal) on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 12:45 am: Edit

Susan---Boy, can I identify with everything you just said! The fierce love we feel for our kids really does leave us terribly vulnerable, doesn't it? Your Brown bound D has always impressed me with her maturity, sensitivity, and all around "superness" (is that a word? LOL!). I know you are going to miss her powerfully. How wonderful that she's so senstive to your feelings---the way she checks in, knowing that you'd worry.

But I'm just beginning to find out that keeping in touch with a college child can be pretty easy. I'm starting to be amazed by the number of times we've touched bases since she left. In fact, we just AIMed each other a few minutes ago. And we talked on the phone TWICE today! It makes missing her not quite so hard.

Of course, I know that once the homesickness wears off somewhat, and things really ratchet up for her socially and academically, she'll not feel so compelled to reach for home base. But that's alright. I'll be better use to her daily absence by then, and I won't feel the pain of missing her so much either (at least, I hope that's how it'll happen).

I'll say a prayer for your Ds' safe return home through the stormy weather tonight.

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 01:03 am: Edit

Thanks Valpal! Actually, this daughter is really good about keeping in touch. When she has gone away in summers, she always called about every three or four days. She is not the homesick type but does like to stay in touch and I like it a real lot as well. I am hoping she does in college too. We shall see. Your daughter does not sound homesick to me but more is into sharing these early moments with you and I imagine she will call a little less often once a routine gets going. But I am really happy for your sake that she has called and IMed so you can "ease" into this whole deal! When my D used to call when away on a summer program, I got such a lift each time!

My girls should be home any minute and the rain stopped and I don't know if they ran into this weather or not. It woke me up and it was all I could think about. They might even be driving up now! Thanks again for letting me let it out!

Yep, the door is opening!

By Bookiemom (Bookiemom) on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 01:37 am: Edit

Susan: that is so touching...the door is it is to your D's new life.

I deliberately stopped asking exactly where my D was when she was a senior and just asked to be notified if she went into the city or out of our area of the suburbs. At least your D won't be driving there at college, so you won't have that particular worry. I think your D will talk to you regularly and fill you in on her new life and then you will feel more reassured.

Be glad she could celebrate her 18th birthday at home! My D's birthday is Aug. 28, but her college starts earlier, so both her 18th and 19th birthdays were at college. Her 18th was a sad and lonely day for her but her 19th today was just great. She is in a house with four other girls and they are having a dinner party for her tonight for their first party of the school year. So much growth in just a year away at college.

Yes, the door is opening...

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