My wallet wasn't the only thing jumping up and down for joy when my son said he preferred to stay in Roanoke, go to a local college full time and work part time. I was thrilled he made that decision, which I know in large part was due to what the dorms looked like on campus, particularly at Virginia Tech. The two person cinder-blocked cell had no private bathroom and no sink either, and might have been the same size, or even smaller than, the boy's bedroom. At home he did have a semi-private bathroom and sink only feet away, along with a desk top computer, flat screen television and most importantly, an X-Box.
Staying in Roanoke he also wouldn't have to eat at the school cafeteria -- mom's home-cooking is just down the hall. Even though he spends a good number of days and nights eating out with his friends, now that he has cash to burn from working, it's still a plus to be able to come home to leftovers after a long night's work. Cooking Ramen on a hot plate daily while at school would get old real quick.
He tried to justify his decision, as if he even had to, by saying the first two years of classes would mostly entail taking pre-requisite courses before he even got into the nitty-gritty stuff. "Why should we (I think he meant to say you) have to spend around $20,000 a year when I could transfer to Tech with an AS degree at a fraction of the price?" I couldn't agree more.
Last week out of the blue he reiterated how happy he was with his choice. Looking for a parking spot to get to class on time seems to be his biggest complaint. This proclamation came after he said he was speaking with a friend, who is going for the same degree as he is, who went directly to JMU. His friend is miserable -- not with the classes or people or the school itself -- but with the housing. He lives on campus in a dorm. It's not that the room is too small, or he doesn't like his roommate. His problem is with the inability to enjoy his down time as he did before he arrived at college - playing on-line games and/or X-Box Live.
The school does not allow enough bandwidth for the students to play World of Warcraft or X-Box Live. I'd bet that wasn't even one of the amenities he, and especially his parents, considered when looking at colleges. When you hear the rooms have internet access you would assume this meant full access. Anyway, his friend is a gamer, as are most of the recent graduates my son knows. His friend is distressed. His friend finishes with his classes and homework early enough so that he has many, many hours to kill. Normally he would be killing his hours the same as my son does when he's not in school or working, on-line and on X-Box Live, saving the fake world and chatting with friends across the real world. His friend has been unable to join in and begs his parents to let him come home for the weekends. They won't allow it. He wants to get an apartment, but that's out of the question too. So now his friend is bored out of his mind and we all know that boredom is a recipe for disaster. My son's friend has a good head on his shoulders so I'm hopeful he'll be smart enough to stay away from any temptations. In fact, he told my son he's been out looking for a part-time job. But not all 18 & 19 year olds think like that.
What's a kid to do with so much time on their hands if they're caught up on their school work and not working? Probably get into trouble. Maybe not intentionally, but it will only be a matter of time before a bored kid will start experimenting with drugs and drinking. Eventually he or she will go to one of the many off campus parties college students have. We can all assume what goes on there. I doubt it's changed much from thirty years ago when I attended fraternity parties. Heck, just walk past any of the rental houses along College Avenue on a Monday morning and see the Roanoke College student remnants from the weekend, and you'll get an idea.
With a heavy heart I read yesterday that a 19-year-old Virginia Tech student fell from a balcony to his death on Saturday night. The police are investigating the incident but I will bet you there was a party going on. I'm not saying the boy was drinking or drugging but it's certainly a possibility. One foolish decision and in a blink of an eye a life is over.
19 years old. He was only a couple of months older than my son, and the same age as my son's friend. My heart aches for his family who probably only wanted their son to go to a good university and be part of the whole college "experience." That could have been my son falling to his death, maybe after drinking only a couple of beers. My son thinks he's "worldly" but I assure you he's not. He's book smart, logical, pretty responsible when he's not lazy, but I believe he's also naive when it comes to "the streets." I'm the first to admit I probably sheltered him a little too much. I never gave him a beer. I never said "I prefer you drink at home with me." I have no idea how he would handle alcohol. Would he get drunk after one beer? Would he succumb to peer pressure and suck on that joint? Would he stumble and fall over a balcony? I don't know. All I do know is that he wasn't ready to live away from home on campus and his Saturday nights are usually spent at a restaurant, in a movie theatre, or at work. I thank God he nixed the whole college "experience."
Peace and comfort to the family of the Virgia Tech student who fell to his death...I can't imagine the pain they must be feeling.