Six feet, three inches in height; one hundred sixty-five pounds. Fifteen hundred miles from home, one tin suitcase and the clothes on his back. Don't recall the exact contents of the billfold, but other than a driver's license and a picture of Mary, I am sure it contained very little in terms of negotiable tender.
Basically, apart from a personality inventory of the sort that everyone is subjected to from time to time during his lifetime, the tests consisted of the ACT battery. I will not tell you that he aced these tests, but the scores were quite respectable, and within the week the boy was a college freshman!
To determine your track, said the Registrar, what do you hope to major in? The youngster had heard of Plato and Kant, and he had read some of Schopenhauer. Philosophy, he said. I am majoring in philosophy.
The course of one's life, amazingly, is often determined by choices no more thought-through than this. Split-second determinations, perhaps occasionally a moment's hesitation, and the die is cast.
The off-campus basement apartment, cost-shared, the shopping at Pike Place Market, scrimping on nickels and dimes, a kindly bursar who was willing to "bet on the come," a twenty-eight hour per week construction job, and the youngster was set to pursue his first sixteen quarter-hours of college credit.
Parents of today's teens, or the teens themselves, will have found this tale so far to be incredible, perhaps even to the point that they doubt the possibility. Yet it is true. They may find even more incredible the fact that the tuition for a full load was $600 per quarter, that is eighteen hundred dollars a year. (I am listening as I write this to a report that student-loan indebtedness now exceeds one trillion dollars.) When he completed the B.A. degree, the young scholar still owed the school just under six hundred dollars, or one quarter's tuition. The school had their money within the year.
Small wonder that we ruminate about "the good old days."
Now I need to figure out why I am writing this.