The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 7, 2014

Mike Pound: Teen has own thoughts when picking college

— When I was in high school, I visited one college before deciding which school to attend after graduation.

Well, it wasn’t so much a visit as it was a “Hey, if you want to go to school here, you better come visit us or you won’t know where the cafeteria is.”

I don’t remember spending a lot of time worrying about what college I was going to attend. When it came to my college choices, I had one basic question: “Based on these grades, will you let me attend your school?”

The first college that said “yes” would be the college I would attend. Emporia State University was that school, and I wound up attending Emporia State for a year before embarking on a collegiate tour of the United States.

I was searching for the college mascot that I could best relate to.

Our 16-year-old daughter, Emma, is a sophomore in high school and has already visited three colleges. She also has been receiving letters from all sorts of colleges from all over the country.

I don’t understand any of this. Who starts worrying about college during the second year of high school?

As it turns out, a lot of people do. At least that’s what my wife tells me. My wife tells me that Emma needs to have plenty of time to make an informed college decision. Emma needs to have plenty of time, my wife tells me, to pick the college that will best suit her academic needs and prepare her for whatever career she ultimately chooses.

When I asked Emma about college choices, she mentioned that she was leaning toward Southern schools.

“Why is that?” I asked.

“Because I heard that they have the best sororities,” she said.

“Well, as long as you have a good reason,” I said.

Over the weekend, we took another college tour. The school we toured is in the Kansas City area. Emma had been on the campus before and has a friend who is going to school there, but she had not taken an official tour of the college.

As we pulled off the highway and drove through the town toward the college, Emma announced that she liked some of the stores that we passed.

“Oh, and they have a Starbucks,” she said.

I wanted to point out that if Emma was going to pick a school based on its proximity to a Starbucks, she was going to have tour a bunch of schools.

After we parked our car on campus, we made our way to the student union. We were met by a bunch of very nice people who gave us name tags and then pointed us to a room upstairs where they were serving coffee and pastries.

A few minutes later, we were ushered into a room where a representative from the school spoke to us for a while, and then we were taken outside for a tour of the college. Our guide was a freshman at the school who had an amazing ability to walk backward while talking to us at the same time.

I thought that was something.

After the tour, we listened as several members of the college faculty talked about the school and why they love teaching there.

It was an insightful and impressive presentation, and I could tell that the faculty members made an impression on Emma. As we walked out of the room, I asked Emma what she thought of what she heard. Emma told me that she had made an important decision.

“If I go here, I already have a cute backpack picked out,” she said.

“Well, as long as you’re thinking through the selection process,” I said.

Later, after the official tour, my wife and Emma had me drive by the sorority and fraternity houses. Emma pointed to a large frat house.

“That’s where the best parties will be,” she said.

“Again, as long as you’re thinking through the selection process,” I said.

On the way home, it dawned on me that Emma had forgotten to ask one important question about the school.

What’s the mascot situation?

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.

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