Our little baby is starting high school in a week. And our littler baby is headed for middle school. Being the plan-years-ahead types of parents we are decidedly not, we surprised ourselves by driving Vivian and Evan around a few college campuses while we travelled. Jo got the idea from a friend with a son of Vivian’s age. We drove to or through Colby, Harvard, MIT, Yale, Vasser, Washington College (Jo’s alma mater), URI, and William and Mary. We were in the neighborhood of Brown and Johns Hopkins, and perhaps a handful others that we didn’t get to. While it would be wonderful if Vivian or Evan have to choose between these schools, that is unlikely and moreover it isn’t the point. We wanted to show them what campuses look like and to inspire them a bit. And we would have had to literally drive out of our way to avoid most of these colleges. Besides, my philosophy about colleges and their campuses is simpler: go to the best college that will have you. Period. Of course I say that after having enjoyed the campuses of the Hyderabad Public School and Pilani, which makes me sound pretty damn insincere.
We had a joke about these campuses. They are all, with the exception of MIT and a couple others, old and prestigious liberal arts colleges. But they award degrees in the sciences and often engineering too. These colleges have different buildings for Jewish Studies and African American Women’s Studies but there was usually The So-and-So Science Hall. Science is a nice umbrella term, but come on. Now, I admit that here too I’m guilty of hypocrisy. In Pilani, the physics, chem, and bio departments were all in the S-Block but it was a small school with only four interconnected buildings for all the different academic departments. Going further back, in HPS we learned science till the 7th grade. From the 8th grade Biology, Physics, and Chemistry are different subjects with their own textbooks and separate teachers and labs. So I am more than weirded out by the American system of learning “science” well past one’s tweens. But judging by the number of Nobel prize winners in the sciences (haha) from the US versus India, I should let that one pass, shouldn’t I?
Vivian and Evan enjoyed the brief visits and Vasser, Yale, and Harvard were Vivian’s favorites. These kids may belong to the last generation whose parents are willing to pay ridiculous sums of money to institutions associated with historic buildings and campuses. Delivery of high quality higher education in other ways will happen within a few decades. So if you’re Evan’s offspring reading this blog post in 2050, I can understand if you are bewildered. What is this so-called “college tour” you “blog” about, Grandpa?