This past week I left my freezing cold office (we like to keep the AC blasting in the balmy Williamsburg weather) to drive over 1,000 miles around VA with my little brother in the passenger seat. While ignoring my brother’s whining that he would rather stay at home and enjoy the lazy days of summer with his friends and his skateboard, I printed out the directions to four universities in VA and made sure our GPS was fully charged. I swung up into our dad’s old school blue pick-up truck and locked the child-lock door so that Tyler could not escape. Then…we were on the road, heading to four schools in two days!
I’ll admit that I was way more excited than Tyler. For one, this is my job! I love learning about higher education, talking about admission rates, babbling about graduation percentages, etc… To be honest, I was also excited to see these other schools from a prospective student’s eyes. I had attended conferences at other VA universities, but I had never really looked at them from a potential student’s viewpoint. Of course I looked outside W&M when applying to schools, trailing behind tour guides on a bunch of college campuses, but my heart belonged to W&M since I can remember. For the first time, I was going to get to experience other schools with a non-biased outlook. Plus, I was hopefully going to enjoy observing Tyler fall in love with a school in the same manner I felt about W&M way back when.
In less than 48 hours, I drove my 16 year old brother from one side of VA to the other in order to take part in four information sessions, four student-led tours, and four dining experiences in authentic college cafeterias. After all that breakneck speeding and junk food, I’m not sure if either one of us will ever be the same again…but I do know that we both learned a lot from the adventure. There were many frustrations along the way, such as getting lost searching for elusive parking garages, tracking down visitors passes, and looking at four identical cinderblock dorm rooms. It was definitely difficult keeping the specifics of each school straight and by the end of the second day, I was very ready to go home!
We hopped back into the truck to begin our epic drive down interstate 95 and began to talk about the pros and cons of each school. I was shocked. My generally moody, never excited, always bored brother was actually talking a mile a minute about how high-tech the classrooms at the third school seemed, and how awesome it would be to have a movie theater right on campus, or how cool the first school was to have lobster in the dining hall. He was doing it! He was exuding the type of passion and interest in attending college like I had always hoped he would! As I thought about my feet hurting after all that walking and when the rain would stop on our campus tours, Tyler was picturing himself sitting in the classrooms and sleeping in the dorms. Even though I might have overlooked some of the cool aspects of each school, Tyler had been paying attention to every word and now could not wait to head to college. Success!
So yes, I am admitting that my 16 year old brother taught me something last week. His experience was so much more rewarding because he approached each school with an open mind and an attentive perspective. I feel comfortable admitting that because it is the truth and everyone could learn from his actions. It could also be that I know Tyler never reads my blog and it will never get back to him that I admitted he was right. Double Success!
– Amanda Norris