School Days

School Days

The school year has begun and I know a young man who is beginning his first quarter at U of M. I’m sure it has been a less-than-comfortable week for him. Brings to mind some of my school experiences.

I can still remember my first year of school (yeah, I CAN remember that far back!). We lived in a remote part of northern Minnesota on a farm and seldom went to town. We didn’t see friends, relatives, or neighbors much, either. In other words, I was an isolated little ‘fraidy cat when it came to meeting people (brave about hanging in the uppermost branches of trees, though).

We did not have pre-school or kindergarten but were plopped right into first grade. I had the advantage, though, of an older brother attending the same elementary school as I. He was in a different room, but rode the same bus with me, and it was a comfort to know he was in the same building.

Before I started school, my older brother missed the better part of a year due to a severe illness. During that time, he was home schooled by my mom while I hung over her shoulder. I learned a lot, including how to read. So although socially I was far from ready for school, academically I was more than ready and anxious to learn more.

I survived the shock of my first days at school and predictably loved the exciting new world of playmates and classmates and regimented learning. Each summer was a great break, but I was ready to return to school long before the next term began.

Until . . . high school!

For high school I was even less prepared. My little three-room grade school ran out of grades after eighth, then we were bussed to a consolidated high school. Okay, I’ll concede the high school wasn’t very large, but after a three-room school and an eight-person class, that place seemed immense!

And as it always happens with me, everyone else seemed to know all the other people, where things were, and what was expected. I knew none of it! I was terrified! I was lost. I was alone.

Unlike grade school, adjusting to high school took a long time. But I survived and finally did become comfortable with it. I suffered only one discernible lingering effect – for at least twenty years after graduating, I wandered the halls and corridors of that frighteningly large school in my dreams desperately hunting for my locker!

Well, back to the young man at U of M. The University truly is a very large school, but he is so much more prepared for the transition. He has attended large schools all of his life and previously has made successful transitions between schools. He’s very talented academically and has experience with college courses. He’s braver and socially more adept than I’ll ever be. Although he may become lost or disoriented at first, I doubt he’ll spend the next twenty years wandering around that school in his dreams.

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