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Friday, Sept. 28, 2001
It's odd how you have flashbacks. Reading some of the college aged writers herein got me to thinking about that particular time in my life.

When I was 18, the final semester of high school, I got a letter from a college I had applied to. It so happened to be the same college that my brother and two sisters had attended (okay, so yeah, I'm the youngest of the family) and graduated from. Little private college in upstate New York. The letter stated that I had been approved for an in school scholarship for something like of the tuition, leaving a couple of thousand a year for dorm and books and the rest to be paid by me. With a grant or two, I could be going to this school for less than the cost of staying home and doing community college.

So for about a week I fantasized about how it would be to live there, on campus, and it sounded pretty darn appealing. I applied, was swiftly approved, and all was moving right along. It even got to the stage where a potential roomate and I were corresponding.

Couple months later, I get a call from the admissions department and it seems they screwed up. The hefty scholarship had been cut down to like $500. Maybe they had a late shot at a 7 ft. center for the basketball team and needed to free up some cash, I dunno. Other than to apologize for the mistake, they weren't saying much.

I could've rolled along with that and gone, I guess. It surely would have been a tougher financial thing. The school had, and still has, a good rep and turns out some fine graduates.

Of course there was a pride issue, too. I mean, they saw fit to acknowledge my obvious steller intellect by rewarding me so handsomely with a shower of dough, then they yanked it out from under me. And by waiting to the point in the year that they did, I had very little time to apply elsewhere. So I was pissed. Wrote them back and requested that they take the $500 and shove it.

Everybody in my life at the time had something to say about that. Most of it was a collective wailing that I was going to regret it forever. I adopted a cavalier attitude about college in general and took a stance popular with my friends, the old 'I think I'll work for a year and see what happens.' Which is exactly what I did. Worked for a year and then enrolled in the local university. Kept on working to pay my own tuition and car bills. It was tough.

Would I do the same thing over again? Hard to say. Working for a year certainly enlightened me about how a lot of things outside of the school environment operate. Taxes, car insurance, working for minimum wage. Anyone who thinks they can use that year off to work and save for college had better have a high paying gig. Minimum wage is, at best, survival money. You might as well go to school and go into debt up to your eyeballs. I know that's a great comfort to those of you currently in that situation.

I took a lot of road trips to see friends at various schools in that year. Maybe, parenthetically, I was trying to gauge just what I was missing. I must say, the Bloody Mary breakfast at Dave's frat house was a shining moment.

So now, a couple decades removed from all that, I'm getting ready for my own brood to bust out and try this game. Beth has applications in all over the place. Playing softball, she's approaching scholarship money on an angle that wasn't available to me. She's excited about getting letters from athletic departments and having them come to see her play at various tournaments and such.

I have to keep reminding myself that one of her good friends, the best high school pitcher in the state, is at college with no softball scholarship at all. They promised her a ton of money and she hasn't seem much of it. It got used up on older players.

I'll have to tell her to make sure I don't get all negative on her about that. She deserves the chance to go, and my dollar and cents attitude would be best served by shelving it, for a while.

So do I have any regrets? Well... hell no. I got as much education as I could stand and discovered my real occupational interest. Which is the biggest point of becoming educated. But I sure did miss out on dorm life. And I never did get to be a frat boy.

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