Monday, August 20, 2012

The making of a Clemson Tiger family

This past weekend we took our youngest child, Eric, down to South Carolina to get him set up and moved in for his freshman year at Clemson University.

Today’s post is the story of the steps leading up to that move in day, and the move in weekend experience.

There is a 4 year age gap between our oldest daughter Sarah and our youngest son Eric, so when Eric was in 7th grade he wandered around with us as we took Sarah to several small liberal arts schools in the northeast.  It was obvious to everyone that he was not interested in that type of environment for his college experience even back then.  When Eric was a junior we started talking to him about what he may want for his college experience and in typical male fashion, he had no desire to talk about college.  Heck, he was busy living his high school experience; college was a long way away.  Not to be discouraged we asked basic questions – big school, small school, close to home, far from home?  Art, science, medical, engineering?  The only answers we got back then were bigger, not smaller, southern, not northern.  That was a start.

With the help of we were able to identify a listing of about 50 schools that matched his criteria that were in the range of SAT and GPA scores that Eric had from his PSAT.  So we dragged Eric on his first college visit in the fall of 2009 to Boston College.  He hated everything about it.   So that told us something.   Since BC was $52,000 per year, we were not disappointed that he hated it.  It was out of our league anyway.  In November he and his dad checked out UConn.  He thought that was okay. In February we visited Boston University.  I think it was the coldest day of the year.  Not too enticing.  In the spring of 2010, we headed down south and visited NC State, Elon and Clemson.   He liked those schools, even though they were all a little different.  He still had no idea about a major.  As summer approached we made plans to have him apply.  We encouraged him to apply to no more than 5 schools.  Each application was $50-75.00 and quite time consuming.  We did not see any value in applying to a stretch school so all the schools he applied to were a good shot at getting in.

We encouraged him to apply to the school he thought he liked best and then get through the applications one after another.  Clemson was the most aggressive with their interest in him.  They waived the application fee and sent him a ‘pre-approval’ letter.  That was nice.  Clemson was the first application filled out and I’m pretty sure he submitted it in October of 2011.   Then he worked on his application to Elon, NC State, UConn and lastly Northeastern.  We knew he was pre-accepted at Clemson but we didn’t hear about the scholarship money until January.  They offered him a $10,000 scholarship and that definitely put them on the ‘quite possibly –this is the right school for me’ list.  But Eric was still enjoying high school and not especially interested in being pinned down for a decision. 

In March of 2012, we took another trip down south to try to choose between his two top choices – NC State and Clemson.  Both are fabulous schools.  Both are quite different from each other.  NC State is a HUGE school with over 28,000 undergraduates.  It’s very modern, high tech and embedded with the high tech companies in the research triangle in Raleigh.  It had a lot to offer.  But then we went back to Clemson.  Clemson is large, but not huge.  They have 18,000 students.  The campus is gorgeous, a real old fashioned college town and being outside of a major metropolitan area, everything was college and yes, everything, everywhere was ORANGE.  It felt a little older and more homey.  We felt either school would be a good fit for him, but I knew that if it was my choice I would go to Clemson.  I told Eric, you have your whole life to live in a city.  You only have college to live in a college town (unless he becomes a professor!)  Still not ready to be pinned down, he expressed a ‘leaning’ toward Clemson but not a final decision.

At the same time, his girl friend Jessa was going through her decision making process.  She had applied to several southern schools and Clemson was one of them.  In March, she too went on a ‘decision making’ trip.  She was torn between a school in South Carolina that offered in state tuition and Clemson who offered her a generous scholarship.  She made up her mind first – Clemson was the school for her and shortly after, Eric made his decision – Clemson.  They really didn’t choose the same school on purpose, but for each of them, it was a great fit.

So with the decision made in April, Eric focused on finishing up his senior year of high school.  He had a fabulous baseball season and the only time I think he reconsidered his Clemson decision was when he heard of a bunch of other baseball players that he knew that were heading off to play ball at school at division 3 schools.  There might have been a twang of regret but it was short lived.  We encouraged him that going to school where he would get the best education was the most important thing.  Playing baseball should be secondary.  He is now trying to decide if he’ll play club level baseball at Clemson.  He’ll have time to decide and from what I can tell, club level ball at division 1, is pretty comparable to varsity level ball at division 3 (depending upon the school.)

This past weekend, we flew down to Charlotte NC and rented a car to drive the 2 hours to Clemson.  We arrived and the entire hotel was packed with other incoming freshman from out of town.  We hit up Target, Bed Bath and Beyond and other stores to buy all the dorm stuff – XL sheets, comforter, pillow, toiletries, organizers, snacks etc.    My credit card got rejected at Target.  I had to reply to a text asking if I had attempted a purchase.  I guess the flurry of activity out of town, set off their system to investigate. 
Saturday morning was move in day.  They had a team of people ready to help us park, get the stuff to the room and get settled in.  We arrived around 10:00 and Eric’s roommate Brent arrived around 1:00.  

Eric’s roommate is fabulous:  A clear answer to prayer.  He and Brent are like two peas in a pod.  They have lots in common with one exception.  Brent is an oldest child.  Eric is a youngest.  A perfect fit in my book.  Those of you who know Eric, know that he can sometimes be a little forgetful and appreciate someone looking out for him.  Brent, being an eldest seems to take this role on easily.   The funny thing is that both Brent and Eric put in a for a random roommate.  It’s nice how things like that sometimes work well. 

 Sunday was the day for goodbyes.  Sigh.  I only cried a little after I said goodbye.  It helps a lot to know that he’s in a great place where he has a high probability of being successful.  

 He admitted to being ‘a little’ nervous before he left but once he got there he didn’t show any signs of it.  I think now that it’s happening, he’s really glad that Jessa is there at Clemson with him.  They are very compatible together and in high school, they were both pretty independent, even as a couple.  I think that style will suit them well at Clemson, but I think both of them are really glad they have each other nearby.  They keep laughing about the fact that their dorms are at opposite ends of campus, maybe a 15 minute walk.  I tell them they are closer at school than they were at home.  At home their houses are 30 minute drive apart; at school, only 15 minutes.  The library is in-between their two dorms.  Maybe they’ll meet up at the library for study dates. 
 As you can see from the pictures peppered throughout this post, our whole family has become Clemson Tigers.  The dogs now have their Clemson attire, the garden flag is posted out front with a big paw.  Heck, even my pandora bracelet is adorned with a Clemson pawprint.  

The first game is Saturday September 1st.  We will be wearing our orange proudly and cheering for the football team.  Us and a bazillion other fans.  There are a TON of Clemson fans - many of whom have no affiliation with the college. I think family weekend is going to be a blast when we get to see a game live.  I think it's going to be WILD.

Oh and about his major.  He is starting in engineering.  He does well in math and science and is interested in medicine (but not med school.) He doesn't see himself as the engineering type (not tinkering with things and making robots) but he has a great mind for problem solving.  We are happy he's starting in engineering. It's much easier to transfer out of engineering than into it, but we are encouraging him to explore all kinds of courses and see what peaks his interest.  Who knows maybe we'll have another engineer in the family?  

Thanks for visiting my blog today.  Stop back later in the week for more crafty goodness.


Kimberly Gajewski said...

Best of luck to Eric! I am certain great things are in his future! Best of luck to Miss Jessa too! Go Clemson!!! :D

Anonymous said...

Hi Linda, What a great weekend you had. Eric looks great and everybody with their orange is so fun! Even the dogs! I just read Sarah's blog and posted a comment for her. So she's moving to another host family. I hope that works out well for her. We only briefly met Natalia, but she seemed nice. I'm sure that older couple will work out well for her and especially if she has a good cook! Sarah is likely to learn some Ukrainian recipes! I wish both of your darlings all the best of luck as they start the new school year.
Chris seems to be off to a good start. I'd like it if he could switch at least one of his classes to a different day....I think it's rough to have all of them back to back on two days. We'll see how it goes; I'm pretty sure he can shift times and days for classes for a short while at the beginning of semester.
Love you lots, Mom