Monday, August 29, 2011

First Day of School. First Day of Forever.

So today marks one week since I took my only child, all grown up, to college at the University of Pittsburgh.  After a week of orientation, she started classes today, where she will be taking writing, Japanese, psychology and biology, among other things, on her way to a degree in bioengineering.  Needless to say, I am very proud.  Needless to say, I miss her like crazy.  There is a hole in my heart the exact size and shape of her smile.

We've texted a few times.  I guess that's the way it's done these days.  I understand that her first day went well and that she likes her teaches so far.  She still is having a little trouble finding her way around, but that is certainly to be expected.  Seven days in a strange city does not make one an expert, and I hope she cuts herself some slack on that.

I did share with her some fatherly advice over the weekend.  I gave her five tips, some from me, some borrowed, that I think will add immeasurably to her chances of success.  They are, in no particular order:

1. Find whatever passes for a student handbook and learn the important dates.  Learn the last day for adding, dropping or switching to pass/fail.

2. At some point during the first couple of weeks of classes, find out your teachers' office hours and drop in to introduce yourself.  Only a suck-up waits until three days before midterms to do that.

3. Learn the etiquette of each professor's classroom.  Approach the class the way you would visiting a church.  Some ministers don't mind if you knit during the sermon but others take offense.  Each instructor will have different ideas about what is respectful behavior and you should learn what those ideas are for each and every class.

4. Take good notes and review them every day.  Rewrite them if possible.  The more you do that, the better the knowledge becomes fixed in your mind.

5. Get involved with the community and get connected.  Join a club, go to church, support a cause.  It doesn't matter whether you save the environment or join the College Anime Funnybook Chowder and Marching Society.  Find like-minded people and get involved with them.

And that's it.  Well, there is one epilogue of sorts:  Whatever happened in high school doesn't mean SQUAT now.  You have a completely clean slate and you have complete control over the identity you are beginning to create for yourself.  Enjoy it, experiment with it, and make it a good one.

Livi, if you read this, remember that your mom and I will always love you, and support you, and be very, very proud of you.

And I miss you like stink!!

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