It has been a long time since I was a college freshman, which my present work constantly reminds me. I barely remember it now and often wonder if that is a gracious gift of aging.
Although I did very well in high school and should have considered many options, I never went on a college visit and simply remember struggling with one question—do I “go away to college” at Harding University, or do I “stay home” to play basketball at Crowley’s Ridge College? I don’t remember the details of why, but I chose the former and traveled the daunting one-hundred miles to study physical education in Searcy, Arkansas.
It was a good year overall. Harding reminded me of my high school in many ways, which was positive. I knew several students already there and roomed with Christopher, a friend from high school and a track star.
When I try to remember those long ago days, an odd collection of scenes comes to mind: An unsuccessful attempt to walk on the basketball team. The terror of speech class. Daily chapel. Pledging a social club. Navigating a laundry room. Unlimited food in the cafeteria. New friends.
Although it was a fine year, it was only a year, and I transferred to the University of Arkansas for the rest of my undergraduate education. At this point of life my solitary year in Searcy seems like a blip on the radar screen, almost causing me to question if it even happened.
Today, I am back in Searcy for the first time in close to thirty years for a student affairs conference, and I am reminded that it did. In fact, that year and that place represents an extremely formative moment in my life—my first experience in actually being “away from home.”
I have subsequently lived in multiple zip codes and discovered quite a bit about the world and about myself. That all began with a mysterious decision to go away to college. That decision is not for everyone, but all in all, it was right for me.
What great memories!
What year did you graduate from U of A? My husband and I like to find the names of people we know on the walkway. We visit northwest Arkansas every November.
I have a friend whose daughter is a freshman at Lipscomb. Her name is Peyton Mowl. I’ve know her mom’s family since Lori was in high school. When I read that you are now on staff there, I was again reminded of God’s goodness. Look up Lori Schafer Mowl on Facebook.
1992. Would love to visit NWA sometime! Thanks for the connection with Peyton!