Well, I did it.
Several weeks ago, I took my 17-year-old son on a college visit to the University of Alabama.
We had a great time. It’s a beautiful campus and everybody we met there appeared to be the happiest person on earth. Nearly every conversation began and ended with a hearty “Roll Tide!”
Surprisingly, that was the limit of football references, except for the advice to incoming freshmen to schedule a light course load in the fall. You know, because very important things happen during the fall.
But thankfully, the day was spent explaining academic programs and residence hall options and “that indescribable feeling you get when you set foot on The Capstone.”
One upperclassman from Atlanta said she chose Tuscaloosa because she didn’t want to join the rest of her high school classmates in the “13th grade” in Athens.
I made a mental note to remind my son on the way home that the “13th grade” is actually the nation’s No. 16 public university in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings, while “The Capstone” is No. 51.
These rankings wouldn’t matter so much to me if tuition weren’t practically free for the “13th grade,” and Alabama didn’t charge out-of-state tuition.
Our trip to Tuscaloosa revealed an actual university, and apparently a fine one at that.
We did happen to have lunch and an information session in the largest and most recognizable building on campus.
During lunch, a father facing a similar dilemma as mine – he lives in Georgia and his daughter will be a HOPE-scholarship recipient – pointed out that our children’s top two choices for higher education were also the nation’s top two college football teams.
My son joked that he was going to choose his college based on which team won the SEC Championship game on Dec. 2.
He had managed to keep our trip a secret from his sister and older brother, who both attend UGA, until I posted pictures of us at Dreamland Bar-B-Que.
The next day, after we’d returned home, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee unveiled its first poll of the year, with the Bulldogs at the top, followed by the Tide.
Seconds after the announcement, my oldest son sent everybody in our family this text: “To those family members planning on picking their colleges based on football, maybe they should reconsider.”
Let the woofing begin.
On a serious note
As I’ve mentioned before, I got a great education and valuable life experience because of an Army ROTC scholarship, and it’s a story I’ve shared often with my children. A couple of weeks ago, I told you that none of them had ever shown any interest in military service.
During an information fair at Bama, my son asked a uniformed lieutenant whether the Army gave any scholarships, and he seemed intrigued that so many opportunities were available through ROTC.
I guess our kids have to hear it from someone besides us.
I’m not sure where it will lead, but my son’s sudden interest in the military got me thinking. You know all those brave veterans we’re honoring this weekend? The ones who’ve paid for our freedom with blood, sweat and tears?
It starts like this: A skinny, fun-loving kid, with no idea where he’s going or what he’ll become, shaking hands with somebody wearing camouflage and asking questions.
To all those who answered the call and led by example, I salute you.