August 16, 2014
CJ knows that his Aunt Kathy went to the University of Cincinnati. Her positive comments regarding the institution and the coop program have been very influential in his psyche. He knows that if she was able to get a good job, UC must have been very helpful. Sure, he has never seen her as anything but a mother to three crazy children, but he does question the intelligence of anyone willing to drive all the way from Georgia to Cincinnati just to visit us. Just kidding, Kathy.
So the next stop on our tour was Wright State. Named after the Wright Brothers, all you history majors out there must assume the college resides in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. You would be in the Wrong state. The Wright State is Ohio. More specifically Dayton, Ohio. It is near Wright Patterson Air Force Base.
I personally did not know much about them. So how we came to go visit is a good story.
Every Third of July our local community has a parade. CJ and the marching band were in the parade so Beth and I attended. Plus, the parade participants throw candy so there is always the chance of losing an eye to a Tootsie Roll and that adds a thrill factor. Anyway, while at the parade, Beth and I ran into the father of one of CJ's classmates. CJ and his son have been classmates all the way back to kindergarten and I have coached them several times when they were on the same soccer team. His parents are two of the nicer people you would want to meet and it was nice to catch up with Mark. We started talking about college visits and he mentioned some of the places his son had gone. His son's favorite was Ohio State. He is very interested in computers as well and Mark mentioned that his own favorite experience had been at Wright State. He explained that the Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science had given a rather passionate speech about the school. His son was not impressed.
Then, Beth had a conversation with CJ's drum instructor about colleges. Joe has taken classes at several local colleges and commented how some were much easier to work with than others. For instance, people in the financial aid department at UC took much more joy in tearing up your application that was 20 minutes late right in front of you whereas the same department at Xavier was forgiving about an application that was two days late. "We'll just back date that for you, hon" they said. Editorial comment: yes, I did attend Xavier, but that has not been an option for CJ since the cost of education there is WAY higher than the local public universities. Then Beth mentioned Wright State to Joe and he said he had heard many good things from past and present students there. Plus, CJ had received some literature from there, so we chose to stop ignoring it.
Here is what we found out during a visit to WSU. A school that is not as well known outside of Dayton as many of the bigger universities tries harder. They are not small, they have around 15,000 students. The campus is not small either. They are a Division 1 school for athletics. They are well-known in select circles for their research and the work they have done with local Dayton hospitals and with Wright Patterson AFB. In Cincinnati though, not as well known. One employee of mine thought they were a two-year institution like Cincinnati State here. Not so.
Everyone that spoke to the big group spoke much more passionately and eloquently about their programs and the university than anyone at the other universities we had visited. Then the Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science spoke. Oh my goodness. He detailed the difference between each engineering degree and computer science degree better than any literature we had pored over to this point in time. He spoke about how every student that wanted to major in engineering was given an equal chance to succeed even if their ACT score was not reflective of the typical success story. And he spoke about an Honors Program for those who had higher ACT scores and math skills that made CJ think he belonged. Wowed were we.
The we went on a tour of the campus and it was nice. The nicest dorm we had seen so far. Brand new buildings being built. Impressive. Then we went on a tour of the Computer Science building. We went to rooms for wireless development and 3-D learning and rooms with computer parts strewn about. I thought it looked like a play room where children had not been expected to put the Legos away, but CJ said it was all state of the art computer hardware that had him salivating.
Then we spoke to someone about the cooping and internship program who had Beth weeping at how structured it is to help individual students find what's best for them.
THEN, we spoke to someone in charge of admissions for the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Beth mentioned to this person that CJ had scored well on the math portion of his ACT and his composite score wasn't bad either. The person asked for specifics and when CJ told her he had gotten a 34 on the math and 30 overall, her eyes got real big and she said that he would probably get a scholarship for 75% of his tuition and maybe more. !!!!! He was learning what it may be like to be a big fish in a small pond compared to a minnow at bigger universities like OSU and UC. It was as if she had just offered him a piece of cheesecake with chocolate pudding on top.
So we were very pumped up after this visit to say the least. Being a dad, I have tried to not let this excitement get too out of control. I didn't want it to be like he fell in love with the first girl he had sex with. Or that all three of us fell in love with this girl/university for the wrong reason. That image was perhaps both nas and ty. Sorry.
Nonetheless, we have had several conversations making sure we are now going about things the right way with this new leader in the clubhouse that came out of nowhere. I don't want to be Tin Cup with a chance to win the Open and then hit 6 balls into the water. Fortunately, we have a few months before it becomes time to start college applications. A lot can happen between now and then, and it may turn out that the scholarship money isn't what this one person unofficially made it out to be. And I do not want CJ to pick a college simply based on the tuition coverage. We have steered him towards colleges we could afford anyway. The most important aspect of college picking is that you feel like you can have an enjoyable college experience and come out with a degree in a field with a real career possibility.
I can tell you first hand that a BS in Mathematics from Xavier University only succeeded in finding me a 27 year career in Retail Management. Sure I have supported myself and my family, but I am the typical parent wanting more for his child. God willing, this can happen. I think He has been steering us on a path thus far, so I guess we will see where that ends. Thanks for reading.