School’s back from summer and with it, memories of our own textbook and bleacher days. Our alma maters cut a wide swath across the country. Read on to find out where the Chicks picked up their university diplomas.
(The winner in the GIVEAWAY for a copy of Against the Claw by Shari Randall, who was our guest Chick this week, is Kristin Lundgren. Congratulations, Kristin!)
When I toured different colleges my senior year of high school, I loved them all. After all, they were colleges. All of them out of state and away from my parents. But when I got to Austin, I fell ridiculously, passionately, madly in love with it. Did I care that the University of Texas had 48,392 students? Hardly; what better way to find my people? Did I care that my dorm was so big it had its own zip code and was designed by an architect who was known for his work designing prisons? Well, I met my future husband there on the very first night of school, so no. Not even the nightly swarm of grackles that congregated in the tree outside my dorm each night at dusk could dampen my enthusiasm for what would have to be, hands-down, the best choice I ever made in my life.
I went to a very small, ivy-covered New England liberal arts school: Williams College. There were 500 students in our freshman class, same as my high school class. I chose it for all the right reasons: gorgeous, Revolutionary War-era campus in an equally picture-perfect, arty little town (Williamstown, MA); lots of cute boys (the first class of women had been admitted only 10 years earlier); very broad majors (hello, English and Psych!); good dining hall food (a rarity in those days); and the “frat”-type party I’d attended on my campus visit. And oh, yeah: I got in!
On campus I taught figure skating gym classes, dragged my friends out of the Sawyer Library at 11 pm sharp to hit the ONE college bar on Spring St. (beer and wine only), and was a regular on WCFM radio, Voice of the Berkshires! (Pretty much a captive audience in the mountains.) My specialty: reading the news. I thought about becoming a female Ron Burgundy, but that required acting classes and maybe even a journalism or communications degree (see “broad majors,” above). But a Williams Winter Study class was where I met a visiting Russian-children’s-book-illustrator-defector, and decided to give publishing a whirl. My life education got a bit of a jolt when I hit Publishing City, aka The Big Apple, after graduation.
As a freshman, I was accepted into Boston University’s BFA Acting Program, where my classmates would have included Geena Davis. On a last-minute whim, I applied to Newcomb College of Tulane University, where I was also accepted. My parents couldn’t afford to send me to either, so I sadly trudged off to SUNY Binghamton. Being a huge Tennessee Williams fan, I’d fallen in love with NOLA and Newcomb/Tulane but when family finances improved, I felt obligated to get back in touch with BU about that stellar acting program. Yes, I’d be re-accepted – but my SUNY theatre credits wouldn’t transfer. Problem solved! In the middle of sophomore year, I made the best decision of my life and transferred to Newcomb. My passion for south Louisiana has transferred to our daughter, who just started her freshman year at Loyola University, right next to my alma mater.
BTW, my high school grades were not great. Newcomb wanted me for geographic diversity; they were trying to up their profile in the Northeast. They did such a good job of it that now NYC boasts one of the largest alum groups in the country. And Tulane has become so tough to get into that these days my application would trigger an instant “thanks but no thanks.”
I went to the University of Kansas to major in their wonderful journalism program. Only when I arrived and tried to sign up for their wonderful journalism classes? Screeching halt. Turns out I didn’t have any of the right pre-reqs, having spent my first year of college at SUNY Potsdam. So I swerved into studying literature and creative writing. (And thank goodness because although I didn’t know it then, two grad schools later, I would end up happily teaching those subjects.) Loved the beautiful campus and the people and the classes…and my sister decided to attend KU too, which was the best. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
I was fortunate enough to attend UC Santa Cruz (home of the Fighting Banana Slugs) back when it was still small (5,000 students) and awarded narrative evaluations instead of grades. We had no football or baseball teams, instead focusing on more individual sports such as tennis and fencing (I’m no hard-core athlete, but did manage to make it onto the women’s foil team my senior year, and actually won a couple medals—et là!)
I majored in English lit, had the obligatory freshman crush on one of my professors, and quickly discovered I was far more interested in simply reading and enjoying books than composing scholarly critiques about them. Humanities majors at UCSC were required to take at least three science classes, so I wisely enrolled in wine chemistry—which included a wine tasting component (yes!). Not surprisingly, that course ended up being one of the most useful to me in later life.
Readers, did you park a backpack at a university? If so, where? If not, what were you up to instead?
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