Our college prep did not go exactly as I had imagined. In my mind, we would spend junior year leisurely touring schools around the state, Samantha would narrow it down to her top five or so and apply to those schools. Instead, right before junior year started, Dave got his diagnosis and we were knee deep in surgeries and chemotherapy. So we spent the summer before senior year doing those tours and figuring things out.
The first school we went to was Virginia Commonwealth University. Sam really liked it, and I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. They talked about the food on campus. They talked about the Quidditch team. They talked about the gym and safety. It wasn’t until later that I realized that we hadn’t heard much about the professors or classes. We also hit up University of Mary Washington (too small), James Madison University (too big), UNC Chapel Hill (too hard to get into), University of South Carolina (too expensive), University of Virginia (really nice), William and Mary (said she liked it but that might have been for my sake), and Christopher Newport University. When Sam said she wanted to look at CNU, I didn’t hold out much hope that she would like it because I had heard it was very similar to Mary Washington which she thought was too small. Boy, was I wrong.
From the minute we drove onto campus, Sam loved CNU. Her energy was totally different, and she just lit up the more she learned about the school. She loved the campus and all its beautiful buildings. She loved the “dorms like palaces” with their suites and amenities. I loved hearing that the professors were well qualified and at the tops of their fields. And I loved hearing that the class sizes were on the smaller side where professors knew you by name and expected you to participate in your learning. This was the school she wanted from the beginning of the process. The applications were not overly tedious, and she did a stellar job on her essays. She was accepted into the President’s Leadership Program. She met her roommate first through Facebook and then in person. Everything fell into place beautifully.
We survived graduation, and she had a blast at Beach Week. Setting Sail week was definitely a mix of emotions but in the end she felt good about being there. As we have inched ever closer to launch day, I have noticed some little changes here and there. We have always had a great relationship. Sam is comfortable talking to me about all manner of subjects – sometimes I hear stories that I think I could have done without knowing. Lately, she has been spending more time at home. We had fun buying stuff for her dorm room. We bonded while going to the bank, and the Verizon store, and even during her recovery from surgery. During these times, the little doubts have been voiced. She is worried that CNU might not be the right school for her after all. The Facebook group for the class of 2017 has her worried about some of the kids that are going. I have been reassuring her that most people do not post crazy things on a public page – that the people she is going to be friends with are not those folks. I asked her to give a 100% effort until Christmas before she passes judgement. But I have also let her know that no decision is irreversible. She can change her mind. I suspect that once she gets on campus and remembers all the things she loved about it, that she won’t look back again.
Today as we packed up her “necessities” like the tv and keurig coffee maker (did I mention my dorm didn’t even have air conditioning!) Sam mentioned that she doesn’t want to go but she wouldn’t want to stay either. It is that crazy time of limbo. I told her that as much as I would love to have her around, that I know it is best for her take this next step into her future. I asked her to make an effort to do things, and meet people, and join in activities, and I let her know that I can’t wait to hear all about it.
So, Saturday we will pack up the car and drop her off. I told Sam that we would only stay as long as she wanted us too – probably long enough to hook up the electronics. I have to remember to bring sunglasses so she won’t see the tears as we say goodbye. Sam told me that if I get upset, she will get upset so I am going to do my best.
Wish me luck!