College Bound

It was official. Despite a rough year filled with roller coaster worthy ups and downs, despite several attempts at trying to take my own life, despite the therapy sessions that I was sure no one else I knew had to engage in, despite rotten choices all around me and self destructive behavior, in spite of all of those things, I still had done it.

I had been named class valedictorian, along with two other boys. I was going to give the benediction at graduation, the valedictory being given to one of the other “Vals”.

I had been accepted to every college I’d applied to. I had won a full scholarship to Wayne State University, the local urban university. I won a much smaller scholarship to Michigan State University. Calvin College in Grand Rapids also offered me a small stipend. Boston University and Tulane offered me nothing but their acceptances and well wishes.

My sister and brother had both gone to Wayne State. Both had dropped out of school prior to graduation. My sister had lived at home with us, driving downtown each day to attend classes. She dropped out in her sophomore year when her then boyfriend, now fiance, got terribly ill and was hospitalized.

My brother dropped out after his freshman year. My father, who had taken custody of him after three psychiatric hospitals proved his current environment was not the best place for him or anyone else involved, had enrolled him in a prestigious Catholic boarding high school. Not ready to have him homebound and commuting after that experience, my father leased an apartment for my brother and furnished it with garage sale finds from all over the Detroit metro area. My brother, who thrived under the strict structure of the Catholic boarding school, floundered with his new found freedom and failed more courses than he passed. My father did not renew his lease and told him he had no other choice but to enlist in the military.

So while WSU with its fat scholarship offer would seem the logical choice, the alarm bells that went off in my head at the thought of it gave me pause. Further, my mother encouraged me to go away to school and have a campus experience, something that could not happen at WSU, which had no dorms.

Michigan State, with its proximity to Ray’s family, held an easy familiarity to me and seemed like the most logical choice. They were still offering money, they had an excellent teaching and music program, and they were close enough to home should anything happen. My friend Karen was also planning on attending MSU, so we could room together.

So the choice was made, in April of 1988, that would direct the next turn in the road for me. I would go away to State. I would turn down the full scholarship to the commuter school. I would major in music education, combining my love of music with the practicality of a teaching degree. It all seemed to make perfect sense.

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One Response

  1. […] I had sat down to choose colleges to apply to, I remembered the experience being a solitary one.  Neither one of my parents had ever sat down with me to choose; the ones I’d applied to had […]

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