I want to apologize in advance if this post makes no sense, or seems unorganized. I hope over the next few years I will figure this out and learn to better organize my thoughts about our college visits. But, for now, this is what I have.
Last week I mentioned taking a trip over to Oxford, MS for a football game and sticking around to visit the campus of University of Mississippi, also known as Ole Miss. I almost decided not to go because I realized classes start this week, so the campus would be full of students moving in. Basically, a madhouse. But as I thought more about it, I realized that would be a great time to visit. Since it would be an unofficial visit and we wouldn’t get inside any buildings or dorms, MM would get a chance to see the campus while it was buzzing with activity. So, off to Oxford we went.
MM headed over after school Friday with the band and I drove up later, arriving just as the game was starting. Unfortunately, we lost the game but we didn’t let that put a damper on the weekend. After the game, we got a good night’s sleep and headed out the next morning on a mini-adventure.
Ole Miss doesn’t offer Saturday tours, so we were on our own. A long, long, looooong time ago, I started college at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. Currently, undergraduate enrollment is around 3,800. I am fairly certain it was much lower when I was there. While Ole Miss is not the largest school around, total enrollment is around 21,000. Needless to say, the campus was huge compared to where I started. We chose to drive around campus instead of walking. Hey, it’s August in Mississippi. Neither of us wanted to melt!
We were both very impressed with what we saw. There are plenty of classical buildings. The kind you expect when you think of a college campus. White columns. Old brick. In a word: beautiful. And it wasn’t just that the buildings were classical, but the way in which they were presented was also so nice. Exiting a central green area, you approach old world architecture and are just wowed. At the same time, there were obvious signs of improvement going on around campus. Modern buildings housing Ole Miss’s Pharmacy college (I understand it’s a pretty good program), newer dorms, and more.
While we drove around, I started explaining some of the ins and outs of college life to MM. We drove past the Psychology building and she wondered about how many classes could fit in a relatively small looking building. We
then discussed department advisors, faculty, upper level courses, and the purpose of department buildings. Eventually, we made our way to student housing area. Again, more discussion about college life. We spent a while talking about how it is for incoming freshmen. Coed dorms, unisex dorms, all freshmen dorms, meal plans, dining halls.
After some time discussing dorm life, we found our way to Fraternity and Sorority rows. I chose not to join a sorority in college. First of all, we only had three, one of which lost its charter during rush my freshman year. Secondly, it just wasn’t my thing. But, I want MM to make her own decisions about these things, so I gave her all of the pros and cons I could think of about joining a sorority. I told her what I knew about Rush Week and gave her an idea of what they do. I might have scared her a tad when I discussed why a fraternity or sorority might be made to leave campus. She jokingly asked, “Like killing someone?” She didn’t expect me to say, “Yes,” and mean it. Way to go Mom!
Around this time, we chose to head into downtown Oxford and check out The Square. Living in Mississippi, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone who went to Ole Miss. Therefore, I had received several recommendations on places to visit while in Oxford. One that piqued our interest was Square Books. I was told, if I like books, I had to go there. Okay, so we visited the bookstore and everybody was right. MM loved it. I could see her being drawn in more and more. But, despite my desire for her to make a logical decision about college, I also don’t want her to just pick the first school she sees. We spent time walking around The Square, before I realized we hadn’t taken any pictures of the campus!
MM visiting with William Faulkner on The Square
MM getting sassy with Mr. Faulkner
We headed back to campus to take some pictures and also to pick up a souvenir. While we were walking around The Square, we decided we should get something from each school she visits. Initially, we thought about shirts so we could make a quilt, putting the college she ends up at in the center. But, after thinking about it, we decided to do something like magnets. Best laid plans…the campus store didn’t have magnets. So we went with a car decal. I figure every school must have those. We will get one from each school, and make her announcement by proudly displaying her school of choice on her car.
MM & Mom in front of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
So, all in all, we had a nice trip. Although it wasn’t an official tour, we were able to drive around campus, see the buildings, watch the campus come to life, visit The Square, and, most importantly, spend some time together.