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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Differing views on college

By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Columnist

My high school senior's nonchalant attitude toward the next stage of her budding existence is driving me nuts. She's barely lifted a finger to help me find a suitable university, except to identify the ones that don't require an essay with the application.

What is wrong with this girl? Doesn't she understand that college is the last stop before real life? This should be a time of exhilaration and anticipation of (nearly) parent-free living.

College is adulthood with training wheels and, like youth, it's wasted on the young. Oh, what I would give to have the body of a 20-year-old with my current mind and maturity, and to list my occupation as "student." I would take French and world religions and classes on ancient cultures, filmmaking, art history and literature. Study abroad!

Maybe I'm turning her off by projecting my own dreams and desires onto her clean slate. Wouldn't be the first time.

I liked college so much I went to three different schools. First stop was Arizona State, because I had an uncle who lived in Scottsdale and quite a few friends from Hawai'i already enrolled there. They tutored me in which classes to take to get an easy "A." These included "Mathematics for Elementary Teachers" and "World Geography," which consisted mostly of the professor showing slides from his trip to Europe. My schedule had me in class only three to four hours a day, and the rest of my time was spent studying and taking full advantage of the college's cultural and social scene, which at the time included streaking the quad.

When my friends graduated, I fell under the influence of Mary Tyler Moore. I decided I needed to be in a big city where I could spin around on a busy street corner and toss my cute beret into the air. So I enrolled at the University of San Francisco and bought a beret. I bunked in a cheap studio on the edge of the Tenderloin district, and after several near-death experiences in the wicked city, I decided this Island girl needed to feel the sand between her toes. So I transferred to the University of California-Santa Barbara. I'm sure my dad would have put his foot down if I hadn't managed to qualify for in-state tuition.

My wanderings delayed graduation by only a semester, and after that came my first real job at $180 a week. Goodbye training wheels, hello rent-to-own and a steady diet of mac-and-cheese at 59 cents a box.

Thirty years later, I still feel the pull of higher education when the local community college catalog arrives in the mail. I'm just not sure if it's because I'm yearning for intellectual renewal or a kegger.

Reach Christie Wilson at cwilson@honoluluadvertiser.com.