We were out to dinner, my family and I, and the conversation turned to college. This makes a lot of sense, since I know a kid who is about to head off to college. That would be my son. At some point, if we are together for more than twenty minutes, the talk will turn to tuition, or study time or parking permits. We have a couple weeks left to get every piece of advice and a bucket full of helpful hints out of our heads and into his. The clock is ticking. We can all feel it.
Still, when the smoke cleared and there was a pause in the action, we didn't stray too far from the topic at hand. For the first time that I can remember, my son asked his parents, "What did you major in?" This is coming from a kid who is about to unpack his bags in a school where he will be majoring in theater arts, essentially keeping his parents' liberal arts dream alive. My wife went into some great detail describing her own created major: Myth and the Western Mind. Her senior project was a comic book. Her journey through academia was as winding and circuitous as many I have encountered, including my own. When my son turned and asked me, "What did you major in, dad? Creative writing, right?"
He was right. Though the path to that eventual Bachelor's degree was not as direct as those two words would suggest: "Creative Writing." For the record, I didn't make that one up. It was the way out of school when I had spent nearly six years there. If I didn't graduate then, I might be there still. As a freshman, I enrolled at Colorado College as a studio art major. My faculty adviser was my Basic Studio professor. I took that class, and a whole bunch of Art History because somewhere in my mind I had a vision of going to work for Disney Studios.
That never happened. Before I finished off my freshman year, I had given up that particular dream and was leaning toward literature as a new focus. I moved on up the road to the University of Colorado, where things came in semesters instead of blocks, and I became one of thousands of undergraduates searching for direction. After a few years and a bunch of film classes, lit courses and creative writing workshops, I made m way to an academic adviser's office. He looked over my credits and told me that if I had an interest in graduating, I should stop taking film classes and lit courses and creative writing workshops. I needed a music theory class and some science to round out the scattered mess I had created. Then I could graduate with an English degree, with an emphasis on creative writing.
But first, I had to take a short detour by jumping out of a swing, postponing my summer school while I recovered from knee surgery and eventually crutched my way into the Fall semester where I took those two classes, passed them, and in December 1986 I commenced out of there with a diploma. You are currently reading the most apparent product of my degree. Writing. Creatively.
What awaits my son as he plunges into the waves of higher education? Time will tell. Hopefully, as the guy who is paying for the parking permit, it won't be too much time.