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Archive for November, 2013

Nov 29 2013

That’s Called Niceness

Posted by Mugs @ 5:57 pm in Family,school,Sightseeing Print This Post Print This Post

Prior to Thanksgiving, we traveled down to South Carolina for Abby to visit Clemson. She really likes Virginia Tech, but its Elementary Education program does not align with what she is looking for. She really likes the education program at JMU, but she is not so positive on the University’s party culture. Both Eastern and Bridgewater have good education programs, but in order to afford the cost of a private Christian University, she’ll need a significant scholarship.

Because Clemson was rated as one of the best education programs in the nation, and it was originally a military college, we figured it would be the South Carolina version of Tech. There was one significant difference, however. There is a certain amount of striving and achieving at Tech that can be felt in a palpable way. When we arrived at Clemson, we discovered we had crossed into the south.

The education professor Abby met described the experience as follows:

Students from the Northeast will visit and say, “Something’s very different about Clemson.”

“That’s called niceness,” the professor replies.

It’s true. There is a nice, calm feeling at Clemson. Everyone was polite and helpful. It’s a pretty place where you hear, “set back down” and “talk to all y’all.”

Our tour guide was from a family with a history of Clemson grads starting with her grandfather. She says they blacklisted an aunt who went to UNC. She spoke of the questions (e.g. “Can you eat my food?”) students must answer to help the university match them with a roommate.

We learned about Clemson’s Creative Inquiry program in which a team of students and a faculty mentor try to solve a real world problem. One of their claims of success was the new resealable packaging for oreo cookies. To my surprise, at Clemson, a student can get a degree in packaging science.

The football stadium rises up from the street. Because you can drive right next to it and it is not surrounded by parking lots, it appears gigantic. Across the street is Memorial Park which honors Clemson alumni who have died in military service. It also pays tribute to those who have served the state and the country. A lone cadet guard patrols the park. There is a contingent of both Army and Air Force ROTC at Clemson.

Prospective students must apply directly into a major to be accepted into Clemson, and some majors (ex: education) run out of spaces. In the education major, the classes are set for all four years. The teaching classes use pedagogue (how to teach) as the primary emphasis. Instead of taking a generic freshman English, Abby would take “How to teach English in Elementary School.” The benefit of the curriculum is students will be ready for their jobs. However, the risk of pedagogue classes are that none will transfer outside of the major.

The individualistic way each University prepares elementary and secondary school teachers is quite varied from state to state and amongst public and private colleges. I have found it difficult to understand and challenging in comparing one university to another.

Because Clemson was such a distance from home, we brought Gabe and Zeke with us. As we had experienced with Tech students being crazy for Tech, Clemson students were fired up about their school. Gabe’s comment as we walked around was “This is staged.” He couldn’t believe that a large majority of students were in orange shirts or some other kind of Clemson spirit gear of their own free will.

Zeke enjoyed his first college visit and all the bizarre stories told by our talkative tour guide. However, he said that when he gets older he’ll “pay attention better and take notes.”

Abby found this inscription on the rocks at Memorial park inspiring.

Now that Abby’s college visit #14 is complete, Dale claims we are free from college tours for four years. Adding Abby’s visits to Josiah’s college visits, I have visited college campuses 20 times in the last 3 years. Some visits were with both Josiah and Abby together, some were with only one or the other, and going back to a campus for an overnight visit or an interview has not been added in.

For all those thinking, “Mugs, don’t you think you went a little overboard?” I would have to answer, quite honestly, “Yes.”

Some visits may have been unnecessary, but in the pursuit of researching to the perfect answer, the “maybe I missed something” or the “you don’t know until you visit” thoughts crept back in.

For those not willing to waste as much time and fuel costs as me, I give the following advice.

1. Have your student figure out “what they are good at, what they love doing, and what will make them more marketable.” (Advice from the CNU physics dean)

2. Only visit colleges that have an excellent program in their major (For Josiah – English writing, For Abby – Teaching).

3. Visit during the academic open house or schedule a visit with a professor in their major to understand the classes they will be taking towards their degree.

4. Have your student determine which factors (size, location, public or private, academic reputation, etc.) are essential.

5. Apply to at least 3 colleges: one below your qualifications, one equal to your qualifications, one above your qualifications.

6. Submit applications for all honors programs and scholarships.

7. Choose to attend the University where the majority of factors line up and the financial cost is acceptable.

I thought at the start of this process that my kids would suddenly tell me “this is the school for me.” I have since learned, not everyone experiences such a moment. Even if a student is certain which school to attend, they may not get accepted, they may not be able to afford it, or they might realize it won’t provide them with the degree they need.

Please pray that God will give Abby clear direction. The applications are submitted. She now awaits the replies.

Nov 28 2013

Giving Thanks

Posted by Mugs @ 9:49 am in Family Print This Post Print This Post

Jesus, thank you for this food.

For rest and home and all things good.

For wind and rain and sun above.

But most of all for those we love.

Nov 21 2013

If Gabe Had His Way With Garden Design

Posted by Mugs @ 9:49 am in Family,Nature,Sightseeing Print This Post Print This Post

When we created the fish garden bed, Gabe insisted on having a white/silver area. If he had his way, the entire garden would be all white/silver with a prominent display of cacti. Isabelle Green, who designed the silver garden inside the conservatory at Longwood, must be kin to Gabe.

Unfortunately for Gabe, his mother likes a bit more color and whimsy.

Nov 20 2013

Mums for Mom

Posted by Mugs @ 10:56 am in Family,Nature,Sightseeing Print This Post Print This Post

Longwood Gardens was having a Chrysanthemum Festival whose centerpiece was a thousand bloom Mum. The gardeners spend a year growing, pinching, and training the mum to produce one bloom per stem. The stems are trained on the structure and each bloom is the size of my palm. The final result is one single chrysanthemum with a thousand blooms. It was huge and amazing to see.

The varieties, colors, and sizes of mums were astounding to look at. These pictures are for Mom, the one person who won’t find them boring at all.

Nov 19 2013

Throwing Abby to the Wolves

Posted by Mugs @ 12:39 pm in Church,Family,Nature,school,Sightseeing Print This Post Print This Post

After I dropped Abby off at Eastern University for her interview with the Templeton Honors College, I received the following text, “I’m the only one without a parent.”

This was my third visit to Eastern University. I toured it with Josiah. I toured it with Abby and her friend Kaitlyn. I did not want to tour it again. I also didn’t want to nervously sit and wait while Abby went into interviews which gauged her ability to think quickly and debate topics with no straight forward solutions or answers. She went in alone.

While Abby was participating in theological discussions on questions such as “Is the death of one person ever justified for the survival of many people?” and “Can God create another God?” I was at Longwood Gardens enjoying God’s creation with the fearless leader. The gardens, conservatory, arboretum and home were gifted by Pierre du Pont as a public botanical garden. It is a lovely place of trees, ponds, fountains, topiary, bells, and botanical plantings. Mary and I spent a few hours there both praising God for the beauty around us and praying that God would grant Abby strength and clear thinking.

After our garden tour, Mary and I were rejuvenated and chatted happily. After her interviews, Abby was exhausted and fell fast asleep.

She’ll hear if she was accepted in a month.