my college history

An Essay By Ben // 2/4/2003

Imagine before you a lad of 18, clothed in dusty kakis, a blue sports jacket, and a tie that seems to choke him. He holds on to a leather strap and talks to a fellow traveler while the bus jostles. Outside you see the sandy glow of sun and stone twisting by. Down every street spreads Rome.

Its funny how beginnings seem to shape the middles and endings of things. I still hold this memory of myself in Rome during Easter because it was on that bus that I decided to apply to The University of Dallas. A conversation began it. My year at UD is all wound up in that bright day in Rome.

The year I went to Rome was my last year of high school and the first year I ever went to school. My parents and I had agreed that I should try attending The University of Akron as a dual-enrollment student. Any credits I received there would transfer both toward completing high school and toward college. It seemed like a perfect bridge between homeschooling and college. In December of that year my dad had the opportunity to accept a job located near Boston. We decided to move, and so my last semester was spent at Framingham State College.

And then!... Where to go? That is the question of every high school senior. I felt pretty sure I should go to college. But which one? I spent hours trying to find a college that would match me best. But matching two unknowns is never simple. I finally chose The University of Dallas and saw it for the first time when I flew there to begin the academic year. UD is similar to Thomas More College in all but size. It offers a Catholic liberal arts education, and it accepts about 10 times as many students. I have fond memories from that year: throwing a Frisbee by the tower, going to Literary Tradition class to discuss The Divine Comedy, playing violin in a jazz band.... A good year of growth took place.

So, people always ask me why I decided to transfer. It's terrible, but I don't really have an answer. I transferred because life changes us, because it seemed best at the time, because I sat by a lake one summer day and read Thomas More College's catalog all the way through. But, when people ask, I usually say that I was looking for a school that would challenge me a little more, surround me with like-minded students, and put me in a location not so far from home.

The truth of the matter is that it is a dangerous thing to read by a beautiful lake. When I read about the spirit and purpose of Thomas More College two summers ago I felt that I had found a resting place. Numerous questions I had had about education and life found resolution in the words I read, and the lake whose ripples were a cloudless sky called me here.

But life is not so cloudless. The first weeks here were hard. I buckled under the intense academic and social life at first. I didn't really belong as a sophomore or a freshmen. I was sick for three weeks. Then the semester ended, break flew by, and my sophomore class and I flew to Rome for our semester program there. Again I rode a bus through that golden city.

Now those days have ended, too. I am settling in as a junior. And I realize more each day that even as the bus ride in Rome flavored my year at UD, so, too, has that quiet, questioning day by the lake shaped my time here.


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