Shift happens

Shift Happens

Brenda and I are sitting in the airport. We’ve just left our son at college and we’re heading in our temporarily separate directions, she back home to Raleigh, and me to Canada for an administrators conference. I was struck by all of the changes that have occurred, with regard to one’s first few days of college for my son, and my first days, back more than 30 years ago.

One of the defining experiences of starting your college career in the 1970s was all the lines. Standing in line for your dorm room. Standing in line for courses (with computer punch cards and warnings of dire consequences if one card gets bent). Standing in line for lunch cards and standing in line for textbooks. To be fair to my time in school, I must admit that I made some of my lasting college friendships standing in line waiting for class registrations.

It was a process of dealing with information by herding people around like cattle. Today, the information practically takes care of itself. Martin signed up for his courses online. Ordered his textbooks online. Got his dorm room and was introduced to his roommates online. His id card was mailed to him, and this gives him complete access to all other services of the school.

As for friends? We had breakfast yesterday morning in IHOP, just next to the campus. As we were sitting down, a young woman came over and said, “Are you a music major?”

Martin looked up and said, “Yes!”

She continued, “You’re Martin, aren’t you.”

He smiled and said, “You’re (don’t remember the name)!”

She was the other euphonium player who made one of the two slots for that instrument available in the school of music this year. After she left, I asked Martin if they’d met before. He said no, that she’d evidently found him through his Facebook page, and he’d seen her profile as well. They’ve met now, and will likely become friends because of their common instruments.

What impressed me the most about change, is what hasn’t changed for my son. When I left for college, I pretty much left my old high school friends behind. I left town, only to return for short weekends, and those relations faded. My son, however, was constantly pulling his phone from his pocket, reading, typing, and slipping it back in. His friends are going to the University of Michigan, University of Illinois, East Carolina University, NC State, and many others. They’ve split, are traveling hundreds and thousands of miles away from each other, and yet their conversations continue. I believe that one of the central conditions of these millennial kids is that their conversations follow them, no matter where or when they are.

Shift happens

Originally uploaded by David Warlick.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.