Friday, March 30, 2012

College Tour Time

Robbie's a junior this year, so you know what that means . . . it's college tour time!

We started last summer, during Iowa Private College Week, and have visited five colleges.  We're focusing on colleges that are within a 3-hour drive and are in the Associated Colleges of the Midwest consortium.  Coe is part of the ACM consortium and most of the colleges offer a tuition exchange.  Meaning:  Robbie can go to them tuition-free. One of the perks of being a PK!  (Professors' Kid)

So here's the wrap-up, in chronological order.

Coe College

Coe's take-home message:
"We love you!"
(The tour guides cheered and clapped when the prospectives and their parents went out of the building to go on tours.)
Cool thing about this college:  "I know a lot of people who teach there already," says Robbie.
Memorable moments:  Robbie meets Robbie Benson, who works in the digital music lab.  Also, Robbie wins a door prize, a Coe water bottle.

Cornell College

Cornell's take-home message:
One course at a time--students take just one course at a time. It meets for 4 hours a day, 5 days a week for about 3 1/2 weeks.
Robbie is intrigued by this.  He likes the idea of not being distracted by too many classes, and getting to focus just on one.  But he's not sure about how it would work out.
Cool thing about this college:  Picturesque campus and a cute small town.

Grinnell College

Grinell's take-home message:
"We can make it happen."  (Grinell boasts a $1 billion endowment.  Yes, billion!)
Cool thing about this college:  Awesome new science building financed by one of the Intel guys.  It's where our friend Jean went to college.
Memorable moment:  Discovering the "treehouse"-style carrels in the library.

Luther College

Luther's take-home message:
The Luther Community cares.
Math, science, and music--Luther is known for excellence in those.
Cool thing about the college:  "Luther: it's chill," says Robbie.  I think that means he likes it.  He also liked that it is "north" and has an unusual setting (on a hill, bluffs surround it, there's a local waterfall and caves).  "Can I just skip my senior year and go straight to college?" Robbie asked after our day at Luther.
Memorable moment:  Robbie going to the Jazz Orchestra rehearsal and sitting right in the middle of the trumpet section.  The FT (first trumpet) was a Wash grad.

Knox College

Knox's take-home message:
A glorious past.  (established in 1837 by abolitionists; Lincoln-Douglas debate here . . .)
Creative Writing. (one of their most popular majors. I got some awesome publications with student work!)
Cool thing about the college:  Beautiful old buildings, excellent cafeteria, history.
Memorable moment: Robbie got to attend a Jazz history class, which he enjoyed very much.

Which does he like?  I asked Robbie on the way home from our last visit, Knox.  He said he liked Luther and Cornell best so far.  So we'll find out more about those, and probably send Robbie for overnight visits at both.

And me?  By far, I felt most "at home" at Luther.  It reminded me so much of my college, The College of Wooster--

  • the somewhat isolated location that leads to a tight community, and lots of cultural events on campus, 
  • the socially-conscious students who make things happen (at COW, our "Soup and Bread" night; at Luther, serving locally-grown food and erecting a wind turbine), 
  • commitment to academic excellence--the Luther tour guide was often saying "this is a great place to study," 
  • importance of music
  • spiritual grounding.  Yet, the tour guide at Luther assured us that despite the religion course requirement, she never felt coerced to participate in religious activities on campus. "And I have friends of different faiths, and some who are atheists," she said. "They don't feel pressured either." This last comment was good for Robbie, my agnostic boy, to hear.  I told him he would enjoy the (required) religion courses because he could study religion/bible from a scholarly perspective.

I asked Robbie if he wanted to visit the state schools, University of Iowa and Iowa State University.  Most of his friends are planning to go to state schools.  "Um, no," he said.  "Not really?" I probed.  "Not at all.  I'm not interested," he said.

I would be happy if he chose any of these ACM schools!  You can't go wrong with ACM schools, and I'm so happy we have these choices.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring for Eli

In honor of Eli's birthday, it's spring!  Or maybe summer:  Thermometer reads 74.

Other signs of spring:

New bike tag for the new bike season.

Birds heard singing outside this afternoon as the birthday boy and I rambled about the yard:
Red-tailed Hawk

Buzzards were sighted soaring above, as they always are on March 14!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Love them boyz

"Your face just lights up when you talk about your boys," said the nurse at my annual checkup.

I'm not surprised.  I'm crazy about those boys.
They make me crazy sometimes, too.  Like the way they gravitate towards screens (note what they're looking at in the photo).  And swear way too much.  And drag their feet about going to church, practicing, and doing chores.

Still.  They are absolutely my favorite boys.

Can I brag about what they're up to?
It's easy to spot Robbie in a crowd:  just look for the mop of hair.
Robbie is in Revs this year.  That's the Cedar Rapids Washington High School Revolutionists Jazz Ensemble, the top jazz band at Wash, the best H.S. Jazz band in town, and probably one of the 3 top H.S. Jazz bands in the state.  They practice thrice a week, and go to lots of festivals, contests, and concerts.  He had to buy a suit, of all things, to wear to concerts!  Hard to find a suit for a skinny teenage person who wears a 38 Jacket and 30-30 pants.  Need to get a picture of him in it--he looks very handsome.

But music isn't all he does.  The other day, Robbie said, "I need a new hobby that doesn't involve math."  When he's not playing trumpet or hanging out with his Magic: The Gathering-playing friends, he's doing weird math things on his computer or his TI-84 calculator.  No facebook for him (he just uses it to send messages to his buddies).  He uses a program called "Nitro-tracker" to make electronically-sampled music.  When he's not doing that, he's writing programs that will create fractals, or do his math homework for him, or he's contributing to (or even creating) websites that index home-brew programs or Nintendo DS games.

I told him that he needs to practice talking about what he does for his math hobbies. "Colleges will be interested to hear about this," I said.  "They'll be able to tell you if there are professors who you could work with on similar projects."

(This photo is one of very few that exists of Eli NOT making a face)
Eli wants to take an extra science class next year.  I am not crazy about this idea, but he persists in his dream of becoming a neurosurgeon someday.  Where did he get that idea?  He's doing pretty well in school--he's certainly impressed his Bio teacher, who thinks an extra science class would be a great idea.

He's not in any extracurricular activities at school, but he volunteers once a week at the Humane Society.  His volunteer job is "socializing cats," which means playing with them.  I call Eli "the cat whisperer."  The first day we were there, he captured a runaway cat under some cages.

He also just started an evening class in ham radio operation with his friend Ben.  Yes, Ham Radio.  The day of the first class, he asked me "What do you think the demographics of that class will be?"  (yes, he uses words like "demographics" in conversation).  "Well, sweetie," I said.  "I'm guessing there won't be too many other young people other than you and Ben.  It's kind of an old-fashioned thing to learn, so there'll probably be just you and Ben and a bunch of grandpas."  "Good," he said.  "There might be some boy scouts," I ventured. "I hope there are no boy scouts," he said.