Yesterday, we took our 11th grade son to tour Furman University. Our visit was . . . . well, wait a second. I need to give you some background first.
When I was in the 12th grade, I was doing my best to get accustomed to a new school in a new city, in a new state. We had moved to North Myrtle Beach in the middle of my junior year; it took me a while to connect, to figure out where I belonged in this environment so different from the one I had left. Choosing a college got pushed to the second semester of my senior year--not all that unusual in the 80's--but by then I was exhausted from all the emotional upheaval of the previous year.
My parents believed that if a child was interested in a college at all, a visit to the campus was in order. I visited lots of schools that Spring, ultimately choosing Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC. (Go Camels!) But at the end of that rough year I decided: if I could ever do anything to help students make the transition from high school to college, I would. As a result of that conviction, I've worked in higher ed--mostly in counseling--much of my adult life.
Consequently, I've visited a lot of college campuses. A lot. At least 20, but probably more. So really: I know what a good college visit looks like and what a mediocre visit is lacking.
Yesterday's visit to Furman was extraordinary--mostly because of the little things they did to prepare for our coming. My son may or may not choose to go there, but I'm so thankful that his first real college visit (one that he chose, not one he had to endure because of his older sister's interest) was so positive.
It was rainy, so Furman had a bucket of oversize Furman University umbrellas there for our use. They had at least eight tour guides so that our groups were small and manageable. These guides took different routes around campus; we rarely intercepted any other groups. Near the end of our visit we went to the cafeteria. Our guide gave us all plastic Furman cups and invited us to help ourselves to drinks before returning to the admissions office. Once back there, we mentioned eating on campus with some of our Furman friends. Immediately, the staff offered us complimentary meals in the cafeteria.
By themselves, these details aren't that unusual. We've experienced similar niceties at other schools. But yesterday at Furman, I felt truly welcome. I felt like they were glad we had come to visit on a rainy, dreary Saturday.
It's the little things. I'm so grateful for the little things.
Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 28 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.
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