It is easy to not remember how much the world has changed when you are dropping off your son for his first semester of college or–and this is perhaps even more important to remember–walking around college campuses with your daughter.
For example, the public health advocate, doctor, social reformer, and writer Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) was the first woman to graduate from a medical school in the United States–the Geneva Medical College. After rejection from twenty-nine other schools (because she was a woman), she graduated at the top of her class in 1849. My how things have changed.
Our exempli gratia happens to be Nan, in Pennsylvania, settling in as a first-year student at the Rossin School of Engineering and Science at Lehigh University. Of course young men have been coming to Lehigh for some time. In fact, I learned the other day that the classes at Lehigh begin at ten minutes after the hour because students working to pay for their education needed the minutes to get from their shift at the Bethlehem Mill to the University. The steel workers needing to get to their exams are also behind the afternoon exams (“Four O’clocks” they are called) that are administered three times each semester.
Anyway, after a long drive south we arrive late and move Nan in to his dorm room the evening before the official move-in day (his roommate, a friend from NMH, opens the door). We then enjoy a warm fall morning walking around campus, and purchasing books for writing, calculus, computer science, and chemistry.
After a lunch on the lawn at Lehigh we say goodbye and head upstate to Ithaca, where we drive by a busy Cornell as well as our house on Cascadilla street. After an ice cream in Trumansburg we slide one finger lake to the West and spend an hour walking around the lovely grass quads of Hobart and William Smith campus.
The next day we are at Hamilton College and Colgate University–presentations in admissions, tour guides and campus tours, soaking in the possible futures and preparing to narrow the final list of schools that have whatever a girl who excels in nearly every subject she tries and that would celebrate the skills of a hockey girl who is coming into her own on the ice.