A Familiar College Visit

Can you go back? To college, that is.

I loved college. My daughter Tara is now a junior at my alma mater, University of Dayton; my other daughter Devon is going to attend UD in the fall. I feel lucky to often visit this school that offered me so many opportunities, helped shape my adult life, and introduced me to some still-amazing friends.

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my UD graduation with my grandmother and parents.

UD has expanded, is way classier looking, has more fields of study, new restaurants to enjoy, but the heart of the school is the same . The upperclassmen housing area, the UD Ghetto*, is overflowing with students on porches and yards enjoying the first gorgeous summer-like weekend this year. The university still seems the happiest place on Earth. Sorry, Disney.

When I was a student, I never once had a thought that one –let alone two–of my kids could be living and studying here, drinking at the same bars, hanging out in the same houses did.  Kinda crazy, in retrospect. Every time I am on campus, I remember so much of my time as a UD Flyer. But as I walk through the Ghetto today, I feel like a …. mom.

It is this generation’s turn to experience college, make friends, find love, join new clubs, travel to new cities or countries, stay up too late, change loves and friends, sleep until noon then study until 2 am.

They will stress about  class projects and exams, life after college, money, health, jobs, fitting in, discovering who they are, and suddenly–what they thought they wanted to study, they don’t. That’s OK. Hopefully your advisors can help you change majors or classes. The emotional turmoil is part of the college experience. Know that these are some of the first adult decisions that you will make—and even after you leave school, many of you will change careers, change friends, move to new cities, have kids.

So, as I walk through the Ghetto with my daughter and a few other moms, I look with envy at these joyous, welcoming, sassy, smart, silly students and hope that you find your way. Experience all you can during these years—you won’t regret it.

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This weekend I will enjoy real conversation with Tara, the school sponsored 70’s themed block party, a few Ghetto gatherings, the infamous Timothy’s, running through the campus, the book store, then head home back to my daily life.

Until next time, when I will enjoy this campus again. Feeling like a … proud mom and UD alumni.

C

*term is UD politically incorrect, but student –and-alumni- correct. I know the school wants to eliminate that name but it’s been there since the 1960’s. Sorry admin.

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Ghetto Porches

I was reluctant to attend my college reunion.  It’s a busy time, a busy summer, and it was another weekend away from home.  But, after emailing and connecting on Facebook with a wide variety of old friends who were going, I made the 6-hour drive to University of Dayton for my reunion. And what an incredibly fun time I had!

How many memories could we cram in one weekend? How many people to see again, to meet, to wander, to toast, to reminisce, to remember, to wonder, to dream of the past-the future-and truly embrace the present?

We all agreed the campus looked incredible, more upscale than when we were students, more green, the city truly welcoming it.  How fun it was to explore the old haunts, the bars, the infamous student area known as “the Ghetto” since before I was born, blocks of student housing where we lived, studied, partied, became adults, ate, burned couches after seemingly-ultra-important sports victories.  The university has along wanted to abolish the students calling it “the Ghetto” but the name lives on by both alumni and current student, the university wishes trampled upon some paper.

All the houses have  the ubiquitous porches where we congregated, celebrated; they were what made the Ghetto a community. Even houses have been destroyed and re-built by the university, sport the porches of the past, to share a thought, a drink, a “hello”, a smile.

A Typical UD Porch

Mis-matched chairs, a table, a stolen sign, forgotten beer bottles, holiday lights, even the half-hanging mailbox.  Perhaps sad-looking taken out of context, but too many memories for us.  Even this weekend, sharing a beer on a porch next to this one, people walking by waved, stopped to talk, joined us in a toast.

UD created such a positive sense of belonging and community while I was there, and that feeling lives on.  The friendliness of the people was one of the main reasons I chose to attend school there.  And some 20 years later, people were still friendly, still sharing.  So proud to be part of this Flyer family. So many memories flooding back even as I write this.

We did wonder–where did all those burning couches come from?  C

Weekend Getaway #2 with College Spirit

Do you remember your first visit to a college campus?  Mine was a day of sensory overload, a rah-rah Notre Dame football game, tailgating and a tour beforehand.   A little overwhelming, but a true sense of the college family spirit.  On a recent roadtrip to Dayton and Cincinnati, I took my three children to see my alma mater: the University of Dayton.  They have heard enough talk about the university and met some of my old roommates and friends, as I truly enjoyed every minute of my time on that campus.  I believe I developed my current lifestyle there,  working hard and trying new things and then playing just as hard with great friends. 

The entrance to the campus is significantly improved and welcoming from my time there, an invitation to enter for two of my three children who have never stepped foot on a college campus.  We spent some time driving around the campus, seeing the educational buildings, the dorm I lived in, the new and improved dorms where there was once a lonely hill, the Ghetto (where the student houses were, for upperclassman) and the house I lived in for 2 years (“It looks creepy,” my 10-year old said, but I explained this was the world of campus housing), the expansive and impressive new RecPlex right up the street from my former home, the bars of Tims and Flanagans looking worn but familiar.

I tried to get my kids to sit on the  front steps of my old house for a photo, but they refused.  What if someone is home?  What if they come outside?  they wanted to know.  I told them if I told the current residents that I was a UD alum, they were sure to offer me a beer, but they would not take the bet. Dirving through the Ghetto, we saw am impromptu party forming, students carrying plastic beer cups across the street, foaming to the brim, and again I offered to stop for them to meet students, but they were intimidated. 

The one way streets and curving, ended roads on the campus were a bit difficult to navigate, as I rarely had a car on campus. We did not need to be aware of where the roads stopped and started and could walk over and around any barricades.

The largest expense of our weekend trip was the hour we spent at the UD bookstore, as I promised each child they could choose one UD item.  Show your Flyer spirit! I hope that someday they have such wonderful memories of their college days–late nights studies, early morning parties, the BatCave, basektball playoffs on St. Patrick’s Day, football road trips, fraternity little sisters, intramural football games in the rain, studying abroad–after my first old counselor told me it wasn’t worth it!, Christmas on and off campus, changing majors, friends forever (even if you haven’t seen them in 10 years),  inspiring teachers and a couple dreaded ones, is it worth going to to the infirmary?,  finding a job while in school, hanging out with the band you take pictures of, and the many educational/social/charitable/religious/work related experiences that help mold us and our beliefs into how we act today.

I hope my children enjoyed their whirlwind day cruising around their first college, to give them a flavor of university life.  Definitely UD in the summer is slower and quieter than the Notre Dame football game, but maybe now they can appreciate the rabid fans of the next UD basketball game we attend.  On to the next school, or are they Flyers-in-training?  C