Having a child attend your alma mater can be dicey. As well as you think you know the college and your offspring, something could still go wrong and your child not find the college a good choice.
When I graduated 36 years ago, I saw Davidson as a good place, but not exactly a perfect place. I went to graduate school, met and married my wife, went to graduate school again, and eventually became gainfully employed. As I travelled through the corporate world, I gained perspective on Davidson and the many friends I made there. Sure, my freshman hall frog-marched me to Chambers, scared me witless with the movie “Halloween,” and then spent the next month jumping out of bushes to see how high I could fly. But every other day my friends were smart, funny, hard-working, and above all just good, decent people whom I could count on to do the right thing. In other words, they were the kind of people that you want to work with, but don’t always get the chance.
When our children began to look at colleges, they knew that I was a big fan of Davidson – not that I exactly hid that from them. My wife, who had graduated from a large state university that suited her well, had become a Davidson fan through meeting my friends and going to alumni events. She has often remarked on how genuinely nice are the Davidson people she’s met, and we both are very happy to serve on Davidson’s Parents’ Council.
Our daughters all applied to Davidson, and two matriculated – our youngest is in the Class of 2020 – while one felt that a larger research university suited her best. When it came to Davidson, I told them to think of the school as a river.
To the casual eye, it can seem like the same river for years and years since its physical look only gradually.
The student going through Davidson, though, has her own adventure. Her Davidson will not be my Davidson, but the topography that shapes it – the community of trust that is deeply informed by the Honor Code, the committed and caring faculty and staff, and the power of a student body of rigor and character – still has every promise for nurturing students for the better.
So, now for the embarrassing part, at least for our youngest daughter.
How does she find things her first year at Davidson?
She finds it a good place, though not a perfect place. She has made many friends, and her core group has already started getting together during breaks. She’s studying hard and volunteering at both Davidson and the community at large. She is now giving tours to prospective students and is very happy that her hall flickerball team got to the championship game.
As for my wife and me, we were very happy when our daughter shared a text from her flickerball coach after a loss, which showed what a great guy he is and that Davidson still attracts good, decent people whom you can count on to do the right thing. And now we also try to “pay it forward” through The Davidson Trust, so that some student can get the benefit from a trip down the river, just as I was able to do so long ago.