Tuesday, October 20, 2009

DePaul Family Weekend 2009

Younger sister and I have just returned from Chicago for DePaul Family Weekend 2009, otherwise known as Visiting The Gigantic Educational Expenditure.

This is the one weekend each fall that family members (read: those actually paying the massive bills to operate this university) can come, visit their kids, dress badly, quietly revel in the middle-aged admission that they are definitely no longer of college age, wait awkwardly in dorm lobbies, and get free t shirts.

I must admit, DePaul does a pretty good job of client care for parents; I think the administration knows very well where the money comes from. And you get tshirts!

Here are my random observations on DePaul, my daughter's new life, and culture in Chicago:
  • Fall is a real season! Its cold here. And its only October. The weather was 40-45 degrees with rain showers the whole time we were there. Ahhh! And it will only be getting colder. Much. And folks wonder why there are 37 million humans living in California.
  • The Fall colors here are wonderful. What a beautiful introduction to Winter. I am beginning to understand why my wife, who is from Toronto, misses Fall so very much. Its just gorgeous, this daily reminder of the Seasons of life. I like that our girl wanted to go to a college that feels, well, classically collegiate.
  • There do not seem to be many classes at school on Friday. I don't really remember this from my college days this being the case. Yet another reason to become an academic, its seems; four day work weeks, and summers off. As for the students, three day weekends work fine, just ask them.
  • Chicago is an amazing city. Over the past two days we have spent a lot of time walking the downtown loop area, Michigan Avenue, and riding "The El". All freshmen at DePaul are required to take a "Discover Chicago" class, that plunges them into the city, to begin the process of becoming life-long learners and helping them to understand better the city they are going to school in. I think this is a capital idea!
  • Did I mention the free t-shirts. Let me tell you, these are the most expensive free t shirts I have ever owned. I picked up lots of them, but still they cost me multiple thousands of dollars per shirt. Need a t-shirt?
  • Why does DePaul have a mascot that is a guy in a Devil suit? Catholic school, Satan as the Mascot. Very strange.

At the end of these busy days, the only thing that really matters is how our oldest girl really feels about her time thus far at college. Did she make the right choice? Does she feel confident, enjoy her classes, feel good about her decision? Is she making good friends, and are they kids with character?

So Saturday, at lunch, I asked the key question. "So tell me, so far, on a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your college experience?"
The answer. "A nine". Interestingly, I received the same answer when I separately asked several of her best friends. Outstanding. Lets hope those numbers hold up.

When I return home, I will stop on my way down the hall - for a moment in Kelly's now too-quiet bedroom. I will stand in the darkness of a Southern California Fall, thinking of my daughter, some 1,700 miles away at school.

As I stand there, I will give thanks for a happy and confident young woman, now off at college. The Journey continues.....
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