I’ve never believed in telling my children they have to go to college. Yes, I do want them to go, but I think if we want to grow up and find ourselves to be well adjusted humans, we have to set out to find our own way, even if that means making different choices than our parents would have us make. I realize it will be harder to stand by this conviction as my children grow and venture off down their own paths, but I know in my heart of hearts, they must do exactly that.
College education seems to be more and more controversial these days with rising tuition costs and college grads competing for entry level jobs that pay too low to make a dent in their student loans. These are serious problems, indeed.
However, I have to say, that I am so grateful for my education and it’s mostly not for reasons you might think. College prepared me for life in many ways, not just in terms of my resume or qualifications for future jobs. College taught me how massive the world really is, how many different views there are on virtually any topic, and how all those views can be correct given a persons perspective from their place on the planet. It taught me how to stay up all night to work toward a goal, if that’s what it took. It taught me how it’s possible to gain fifteen pounds in a year living off of bagels and Mountain Dew. It was a time when I discovered that my limitations were set more by me and not the outside world. Hell, I passed Organic Chemistry, I can move mountains, right?
In the last couple of years, I discovered a way to get my boys excited about the possibility of attending college one day, and it was completely by accident.
I don’t know if it’s like this everywhere, but in Utah, college football is a holy institution. Roughly 45,000 fans show up to cheer on the Utah Utes at the Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah for each and every home game. You virtually can’t get rights to season tickets to the six or seven home games each year.
Now, I’m not much of a fan of football. I’m sorry! I just don’t understand all the fumbling and scrimmaging and all that other stuff they do that takes so long and looks like the same thing every time! But, when you live in a house full of men, you learn if you can’t beat ’em, you may as well go ahead and join ’em. So, when our good friend Joby scored us a set of season seats, we didn’t hesitate and we’ve been Fighting Utes ever since.
When you arrive at a Utes game you have to park roughly seventeen miles from the stadium (slight exaggeration but it’s close). Our parking spot and the stadium are on opposite ends of the campus so when we walk into a game we have a good long stroll. My boys see the hustling students with their i pods and their heavy backpacks trudging through campus like they know all about life. I point out the bookstore, the student union building, and the massive library to them. I talk about my college days and how their dad would help me study for tests sometimes instead of going on dates.
When we arrive at the stadium we load up on junk food and wedge our way into the bleachers. There’s something so fundamental about sitting next to your kid on rock hard bleachers, dressed up in school colors, stomping your feet and screaming until your throat is sore. We jump to our feet and hive five on touch downs and sing along to the songs and cheers we now know by heart.
We ‘ve been to games in the snow, the rain, and in the blazing heat of the mid-day sun, but each time we’ve stayed to hear that final buzzer ring in our victory or our loss.
Really to me, the sport doesn’t matter so much, but the time spent doing something they love, with the added benefit of giving them a birds eye view into how much fun college life can be. The simple joy of participating in something we all love as a family is reason enough for me to tolerate a little football, but man, I have got to get me one of those cushy, portable bleacher seats. My butt literally kills me after those games. They are so long!
Whether or not my kids choose to attend college one day, these times will remain as treasured memories in our hearts.
May you find fun and new experiences with your family as often as you can.