“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” ~Aristotle
The day where a parent’s child moves out of the home and into a college dorm is filled with melancholy. For the most part it is bittersweet. Seeing your child strive to achieve a higher education is always a rewarding experience. Then the realization that you are no longer under any obligation to play the role of full-time caregiver settles in. Both excitement and sadness fill the air as parents drop their son or daughter off at their university and help them move their belongings into their dorm room.
On the 17th of August, I got the pleasure to go to Seton Hill University in Greensburg to help a freshman move into their dorm. Jessica Willochell is an incoming Biology and Psychology major and couldn’t be more excited about starting class. Although this will be the first time in her life when she won’t be living at home, she embraces the opportunity to become independent. The weather wasn’t too inviting that day with high humidity and rain. That didn’t stop her and all the other eager students from lugging their belongings from their cars up to their dorms.
This small campus on the top of a hill had a lot of mixed energy going about. Young people looked around campus nervously to find their dormitories and where to get keys with many searching for their new roommates or returning friends they haven’t seen all summer. Siblings and parents helped students unload and unpack. Athletes trained in a dewy football field. And many others were simply trying to familiarize themselves with this new place that is completely different from their home setting. Moving away from home can be tough in the beginning; but with an Amtrak station within walking distance from campus, home is never too far away.
Many social excursions were planned out to welcome the new incoming class as well as the returning students. A bonfire, fireworks, scavenger hunt and even a Target takeover could be worth living, even without AC during the hot summer. It might also take a while getting used to the dining hall food and the many stairs throughout the campus, but Jessica has been anticipating this day for a long time. Once settled in, she invited me back to explore her school even further.
After a great weekend of festivities, the rest of the student population gather for life at school. On August 22nd Jessica attended her first day of classes, I got to experience a little bit of what it’s like to walk with the Griffins. Within the walls of these historic buildings are classes and seminars full of students of all backgrounds, some even from outside of the United States, making classes themselves a great opportunity to make new friends you could be around for the next four years. Beyond the classroom, there are over 50 on-campus clubs one can join. There are also opportunities in the school’s Division II athletics, a new art center and PokéStops all over campus.
Whether a commuter or resident, you don’t have to worry about missing a beat. “A lot of people here are really friendly. It’s completely different from high school. It’s a very inclusive school so far.” Willochell informs me. And when recreational time is over there’s many different classes one can take. From sciences to performing arts, this liberal arts university has many activities for everyone.
The air was light and stress-free for now. The students walked campus, meeting their professors and receiving their syllabi. Cram study sessions and papers are surely going to be in the works for days to come. “It’s my first day and I already have taken notes and been assigned homework for my classes,” Jessica tells me as we walk around the halls. For many of us still in high school we are either anticipating college or dreading this chance for independence, higher levels of learning and place for new beginnings. Regardless, college is a great experience to get outside of your comfort zone. When you do, you’ll be glad you did.