I wasn’t fortunate enough to experience for myself the wonders of “dorm life.” I was a commuter student, and there is a big difference.
In my day in rural Arkansas, believe it or not, not every kid had a car. And even if they did, they didn’t all use their cars to drive to a college that was 30-50 miles away. The community colleges knew this, so they provided buses so they could attract more students. Unlike the school buses we see every day, though, our bus—and probably all the others at our college—wasn’t driven by a “bus driver,” a person paid to pick up students and drive said students to the school, all the while keeping both hands on the wheel and watching for trouble among the riders in the rear view. No, the buses were driven by a fellow student, Howard, who was helped with tuition and other expenses for the trouble he endured putting up with all of us. And, I’m rather ashamed to say, we did give him some grief…
Monday through Friday, we commuters would meet at designated parking lots in town where we’d leave our vehicles for the day and hop on the bus for the 45-minute ride to school. I got to drive the family’s Rambler American station wagon to town every morning. When the bus came, the “cool kids” (I think this is only time I could have been numbered among the “cool kids”) sat in the very back, on the back seat that went entirely across the width of the bus. Lord knows what would have happened if we’d needed an emergency exit! But that seat was the “in” place. Mostly because we went over this high, bumpy bridge over the Red River that would send our heads flying up to the roof of that bus.. That seat was the best in town!
Things are different now. In these late days of summer, there are move-in days at the bigger colleges and universities. I don’t imagine there are many old blue school buses driven by students, but there sure are lots of fancy cars parked in the lots around the dorms.
And college life itself is much different than what we commuters of long ago experienced. The opportunity to live away from home gives the students a new-found freedom. Dad isn’t there to monitor what time they get home. Mom isn’t there in the morning to ask if the homework is done. There is a lot of growing-up at college. Mistakes are made. Lessons are learned, and not all in the classroom!
One thing for parents to keep in mind at this time in their children’s lives—tragedy, such as a fire or a tornado, can happen at any time. Contact your insurance agent to ask about adding insurance for the contents of your child’s college room to your homeowners’ policy. If that isn’t possible, ask for a quote for what is referred to as a “Tenant’s policy.” Neither option is very expensive but would provide you with a lot of peace of mind. Then you can go back to worrying if your child is getting to that early morning class. Or not….
Thank you, Howard, for putting up with all of us so very long ago.