Monday, August 24, 2015

The College Life: Then & Now

Will & his Mom at move-in day
Many of you are aware that this past Saturday my wife and I moved our son Will into his apartment at the University of Central Florida. As of today he is officially a Golden Knight! While it is his junior year, it is also his first time living away from home so in some ways it was a difficult day. But for the most past it was a celebration, and we are excited for him and what the future holds. There was one thing about the move-in that really struck me, and it's what I want to share with you today. His first experience on campus will be drastically different from mine. Let's compare and contrast.

I arrive at Lenoir-Rhyne College (now University) in Hickory, NC in the autumn of 1977, a wide-eyed freshman excited to be living on my own. My best friend Steve Semmler had also matriculated to the "Big Hickey," but we chose not to room together to expand our horizons. We moved in to Morgan Dorm (we called it the Teddy Bear Motel because from the outside it looked like a cheap tourist trap) excited for the possibilities. Each room had two beds, 2 desks (I think) and almost enough room to walk between them. It was always loud, with parties going on even though girls were only allowed in the dorm during specific hours on weekends. There was no kitchen (even hot plates were banned). The bathroom was located across the hall- one for the entire floor. It had multiple toilets and multiple showers- none of which had any privacy at all. It was like high school gym class every time you needed to shower...there were naked guys everywhere. If memory serves correctly there was no AC. There was no laundry facility in the building, we had to walk across campus for that. We had a stereo of some sort, but no one had a TV in their room back then. But at least there was WiFi, right? Oh wait....that hadn't been invented yet. In fact, the internet hadn't been invented yet. In truth, none of us had a clue that there would ever be a need to have a personal computer. And in those days, everything you read above was both expected and normal. We had the time of our lives, having no idea we were living in squalor. There were amazing guys who became fast friends, and the legend of The Stallions was born that year- but more on that another day. I will say, however, that Steve and I choosing to move outside our comfort zone and have different roommates was a total flop. His was a drunken playboy and mine was a drug dealer. But you live and learn... 

Now fast-forward to 2015. Will moved into student housing as well. But moving in was perhaps the only experience we will share in common. He will share the apartment with 3 other guys, one of whom he has known since middle school. It is furnished, with sofa, chairs and a flat screen TV in the living room.  The have a very nice, large kitchen. There is a laundry room in the apartment with washer and dryer provided. They each have their own room. The EACH have a private bathroom. Will's walk-in closet is almost as big as my room in Morgan Dorm. Internet and WiFi are included, and all 4 of them have TVs (that they brought) with cable included in the their rooms as well. You can see his bed and his turntable here; that's the last time that bed will be made until the next time his mother does it! They have a lake view out several windows (I think I had a parking lot view) with a pool and weight room nearby. Shuttles will take them to the main campus for classes. It's beautiful and it's a great place for Will to be. But as I have told him for months now, this is not college. Having your own bathroom cannot be college! Things have certainly changed.

The bathroom-
accidentally color coordinated!
But here's what hasn't changed at all. Will begins today with the same excitement and hope I had on my first day way back when. As I said at the top, of course we will miss him terribly over the weeks to come. But as parents our job is to set our son up for a win. We believe we have done that. He is in the right place at the right time to accomplish his goals and live out his dreams. So even when we feel a little teary-eyed at the thought of him being gone, it is never a sad thing. It is a glorious thing. His future begins in earnest today. And if it can begin in a luxury spa being passed off as campus housing, all the better. 

One final note. We took our ancient Mister Coffee machine, selflessly giving it to the apartment because Will loves his coffee. We arrived to find someone had already brought a fancy Keurig system for them all to use. As Will loves to say, "It's a hard knocks life." They just might survive this year. And I can still make coffee this morning. We may ALL survive...


  1. What a small world - Andrea and I live just a stone's throw away from LRU! It's about 3 miles from our house, so cool. Good luck to Will and his new adventures!! You guys will be in my prayers.

    1. Small world indeed! And one of these days I will get up there to see you guys. The prayers are much appreciated.

  2. Anonymous8/24/2015

    No internet? No PC? No private showers? So this is what it was like before Christ! And how did anyone survive college without Google? Sir, your powers never cease to amaze me! ~ Chris Cooper


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