Our kids both graduated from college last week.
Ellen’s oldest son, Michael, graduated from New York University along with 10,000 other students in at ceremony at Yankee Stadium. The students didn’t collect their diplomas individually; one representative from each school did the honors on behalf of everyone. The charismatic main speaker was Bill Clinton. When along with “hotels and directions,” there’s a tab on the school web page about “getting a visa for your guests,” it wasn’t surprising to see proud family members in saris, dashikis, turbans and veils, sharing in the milestone event. The Scolnic family found seats in right field next to the foul ball pole and watched the ceremony on the Jumbotron.
Joyce’s daughter, Samantha, graduated from Goucher College in Towson, MD. There, all 361 graduates lined up on the school quad, walked on stage one by one, shook the hand of the school president, and received their diploma. While Rutgers chose Snooki to speak at commencement, Goucher went highbrow with a humanitarian you’ve never heard of. The previous evening, at the intimate baccalaureate ceremony, graduates marched in to the sound of African drumming and students read prayers in seven languages.
These graduation ceremonies could not have been more different – but they were totally reflective of each school.
NYU is in the city that never sleeps. Ellen says the only official communication parents got in four years was an e-mail saying that “your tuition bill is now available online.” NYU owns buildings all over the city and students are on their own to find the correct subway to history class. But when they are tired of cafeteria food, there are 865 restaurants “on campus.”
Goucher is a bit like Cheers; it’s a college where even the president knows your name. Students can walk across campus in five minutes; most live in the dorms for all four years. You don’t have to seek out the activities; if the jazz band hears you’re talented, they invite you to join.
During college, Michael had the opportunity to work part-time. It gave him the experience, along with hard work, that helped him land a job that pays enough for him to continue to live in Manhattan — his fondest wish. In her college experience, Samantha continued to expand and explore her lifelong love of music; she played clarinet in the jazz band and orchestra, taught herself the banjo, and wrote lots of songs. She’s planning to record her music this summer.
With a milestone like graduation just past, all the tsuris of SATs and picking the “right college” seems so long ago. Michael and Samantha are very different people, and they chose very different schools. Yet, in the end, both the schools suited their personalities. And after four years – not 5 or 6, thankfully – our kids are making their way out in the real world, and we’re kvelling.