Thursday, January 19, 2012

How to get your kids to like a college

Reed College

Most people who know me know that I am an enthusiastic member of the Reed College graduating class of 1983.  Reed, a small liberal arts college nestled in a quiet residential neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, is known for its quirky intellectual students.  Its unofficial motto (printed on t-shirts and BPA-laden water bottles) is "Atheism, Communism, Free Love."  I am an active alumna.  Along with John Bergholz of Chicago, I spear-headed a campaign a few years ago to create the first ever class-funded scholarship. "The Class of 1983 well-endowed scholarship fund" is its precise name.  Students, I'm told, particularly male ones, are pleased to be selected for it.

For years, in addition to the t-shirts and water bottles, my kids have visited Portland, peripherally attended reunions, and generally been exposed to my wide variety of Reed alumni friends--all of whom are fun, bright and adorable.  I knew that when it came time to apply to colleges, my children would give strong consideration to my alma mater.

My husband, on the other hand, graduated 30 years ago from an obscure institution called Brown University.    Actually, there are places where this venerated Ivy League institution is less well-known.  One of my favorite moments (and like so many of my stories, this doesn't reflect well on me), was when my then boyfriend, now husband, and I were interviewing for the same summer internship at the Oregon Attorney General's office.  With both our resumes in hand, the interviewer said, "now I know all about Reed--what a great college!  Tell me about this Brown University you attended, I'm not familiar with that."  It was all I could do not to shoot my fist in the air.

Unlike me, my husband is not an active alumnus, doesn't attend reunions, doesn't buy t-shirts and rarely refers to his college (even though, I hasten to point out, he liked his experience there just fine).  Although he maintains friendships with fellow alums, we don't vacation with them or see any of them often as they mostly live far away.

Well, did you see it coming?  Guess which college is drawing significantly more attention from the high school sophomores at our dinner table?  Three guesses and the first two aren't sitting in the rain drinking strong coffee.

This is so unfair.  Had I known that this was the winning strategy, I would have forced them all to attend constant Brown reunions and wear the t-shirts (not sure what the Brown unofficial motto is, maybe "Oh, look at me, I went to Brown so I don't have to work at Starbucks for the rest of my life"?)  As it is, I must look into which airlines fly from Sacramento to Providence, Rhode Island.  sigh...

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