Archives for posts with tag: college

I wrote this for a friend’s daughter several years ago & ran across it today. With grandkids leaving for college, I’m going to share it!

10 Tips for College, which is NOT the real world

Right now you think your parents are pretty smart. In a couple of years, you’ll think they’re REALLY dumb. In about 4-5 years, they’ll get smart again.

Take care of your stuff. You’ll meet people who like to “borrow” or who just like to steal. Don’t loan your clothes, jewelry, deodorant, toothpaste, CDs – well, just about anything. LOCK YOUR DOOR WHEN YOU’RE GONE.

When you’re home, don’t act like visiting royalty. You’re NOT a guest. Get over yourself!

Use your head when meeting people. This goes for students, professors, bosses, everyone you meet. There are people who are up to no good at all levels. Don’t do anything in exchange for a grade or to move up that you wouldn’t do otherwise.

Make it to class. I don’t care what the teacher says – be there. They notice & sometimes it’s worth a lot come grade time.

There’s a lot of activity after midnight. While “nightcrawling,” take extra care.

Choose roommates carefully. Just because they’re fun to be with doesn’t mean they’re fun to live with. This advice will come in handy when you want to marry, too.

If you meet someone you’re attracted to and he/she is possessive, angers quickly, is abusive, alternating with being charming, RUN. Don’t think you can change this person. If you get involved before you realize these traits, get help. Tell someone you know and trust and get help immediately. This is a dangerous situation.

Make your bed everyday. It makes your room look neat & clean, even if it isn’t.



I couldn’t think of a title for this blog without getting into a political battle on the topic. Because of the politics of the moment, my mind was flashing with images of Gloria Steinem, remembering the time I saw her when I was in college.

When I was born in 1945, the war had ended and my parents were settling in for their new life. They met towards the end of the war and my father was a war hero of 33 and my mother was a working woman of 24. My father was the oldest of his family and they owned their own company. My mother and her brothers were raised by her widowed mother during the depression and she left home to work as soon as she got out of high school with a little business school background. I was the oldest child, the daughter who was never going to have to do anything other than grow up to be smart and married, a good wife and mother.

Thinking back, I watched my maternal grandmother run her home and another house as a boarding house, never having much money, but happier than most people I have ever known. I didn’t realize how poor she was growing up on the farm in southern Oklahoma until recently, actually. As a child, I didn’t understand what I now know about her life and how hard it must have been. She was grateful for what she had. My paternal grandmother also grew up poor, on a farm in Kentucky. She married well and also was grateful for what she had, never doing anything that I would consider extravagant even though she could afford whatever she wanted..

The point is that I never had to do without a thing growing up, but I inherited the legacy and the DNA of these women who did. I’m not sure either of my grandmothers finished high school, my mother went a little further, and I graduated with a degree and then some. We’re progressing. I was a smart, but quiet, little girl, anxious to please everyone, not making much of a fuss. I absorbed a lot more than I thought, collecting images of maids, teachers, secretaries, waitresses, store clerks, nurses and a few other working women in my limited world. When I went to college, there weren’t really that many expectations. I knew so many extremely intelligent girls in high school and we all went off to some of the best universities with hopes of…what? Our parents made sure we had these opportunities, but what were we supposed to do with them?

The women of my generation grew up with the women’s movement of the 60s and beyond. As I said, Gloria Steinem came to speak at Oklahoma State University while I was there in the late 1960s. That’s hard to believe really since Oklahoma was extremely conservative and OSU wasn’t exactly the place where extreme feminists were getting their biggest stronghold. But changes were happening. Slowly. I loved Gloria Steinem then and I still do. She was articulate, thought provoking, and inspiring. I don’t know what I was inspired to do exactly, but her words and being in the theatre with others plugged thoughts into my brain that stuck.

We, the college girls of the 60s, were getting more vocal. I remember signing petitions to change the backwards treatment of women at a time when unmarried women under 23 had to live on campus. That’s 23 years old. Curfews were strict in those days and most of our professors were male. I married a few weeks after I turned 21 and my first job after graduating was to work for the summer as a grocery store clerk. I already had a job for fall teaching as a graduate student, but this was a new experience. I worked with wonderful women under the thumb of a tyrannical manager who treated us all equally badly. Everyone should work with the public in such a position some time in their lives. It was a mind changer for me. Up until then, my jobs had been working at my father’s office or tutoring or working as a student dorm counselor. The final straw at the grocery store was when I announced I would be leaving to teach at the university and the manager started treating me differently. I was livid because I hadn’t changed, but his opinion of me had, and my eyes were opened to the real world women were dealing with daily.

My working days ended for awhile as I started having children and was lucky enough to stay home to raise them. My friends found that we were well educated, great wives, becoming wonderful parents, but we needed to stretch our brains. The expected thing in our world was to become volunteers and give back. Again, this was eye-opening, brain changing, world shaking for us as we began spending our non-wife, non-parent times with like minded women who were out to change the world. I can’t say enough about volunteers and what they bring to the world, our lives. I was privileged to have the opportunities I had.

No matter what we were doing, we were making changes. At first, we couldn’t have our own credit cards, our homes were purchased in the husband’s name (unless you were smart enough to make it a joint ownership, which most of us did). There were so many little things changing all around us, little steps of progress fueled by these educated women who weren’t going to be ignored.

For the rest of my days, I have volunteered on so many projects I won’t bore you. The range of experiences has brought me in touch with children, seniors, victims of domestic violence, women who have been uneducated and thrown into the workforce due to divorce, widowhood or other circumstance, students who are trying to find their way, advocates for change in every aspect of life, politicians, teachers, community leaders, businessmen, everyday people from everywhere, rural and city. My view of the world is so much more global than all those years ago when I was a student and then young wife and mother.

I’m 70 now and have traveled, been a volunteer, worked for others, been a manager, and a business owner. When I was a young woman, I served on a board of directors for an organization where I was the youngest person, one of the only women, and the first pregnant woman to serve, causing much concern from the older, very traditional, very white businessmen who ran the board as a good old boys network. I respected them, but I made sure they listened to me, too. I have since served as president of boards where I worked with men from all walks of life. I have worked for companies where women were rising, but still fighting for titles and pay. I’ve worked for women executives who were excellent and some who were awful. I tried to work for my family company, only to be told by my father that no matter how proud of me he was, or how smart he thought I was, I couldn’t work there. Because I was his daughter. He liked to run the company like it was 1945 and having your daughter work meant you weren’t doing something right. In his behalf, he did help me start my own business. He was confused by the changes around him, to say the least.

Those are my stories in brief. My mother shared her stories of not being hired as a teenager because she was too pretty and might distract the boss’s son or the traditional being chased around the desk by a chauvinistic boss. I have friends who had all the classic experiences you know from the “old days.” We’ve seen it all. And, now there are more choices, more opportunities for women, for everyone!

There are successes galore. Those women I grew up with, went to school and raised kids with, have ended up as presidents of volunteer boards, owners and CEOs of companies, doctors, judges, lawyers, politicians, philanthropists, athletes, advocates, authors, artists, and some still knew their calling was as a wife and mother. Some did it all, alone or with a partner/husband. All are inspirations to generations coming along behind us. I look back at those days when I was in college and I marvel at how far we’ve come, especially those of us who chose to do it in a more quiet manner, working our way up through the traditional lifestyle we were born into. We worked within the system and moved the system. But…we haven’t moved it all the way.

My three daughters and my daughter-in-law have lived with opportunities open to them in sports, education, business, science, politics, and everywhere in life that came from the growth of my generation. My granddaughters live in a world with opportunities galore. We have more women politicians, military leaders, educators, community leaders than ever before. We’ve come a long way, Girl Friend! But the pay gap is still there, and some people still believe women have their place, a place somewhere below men’s place.

All you girls and women out there, don’t stop! I don’t know when we’ll all be equal, but if you think we are now, then open your eyes. Huge, enormous growth, but not there yet. Look around you. Really look. Read. Learn. Talk to those who have gone before you and learn what was good and what was bad about the “good old days.” Honor the past by working for the future. Our job, no matter what our generation has available to it, is to make life better for the next ones. I’m still working for my children and grandchildren.

Lest you think I’m a rabid feminist, you have to know how much I love men, and am grateful for all the opportunities that have opened up for them to be better husbands and fathers and better people in general because of the changes we’ve seen for women. I’ve been surrounded by the best of men and I don’t take that for granted, just as I don’t forget the wonderful women I’ve known. It takes a lot of women – and men – to make change happen. I’m not advocating for any one person, I’m advocating for all of us.

Don’t stop changing the world, please. There are so many challenges still out there for people everywhere and you need to keep applying all that you learn to make the world better all the time.

Step by step.

Person by person.

Vote by vote.



My oldest grandchild left for college yesterday. Another milestone for the family, for this cute guy. It’s not like he’s going that far away and I’ll even see him next week since I work on campus part-time, but it’s still a milestone. For me, the grandmother, the emotions run across many decades.

Watching him packing, I saw his mother and father helping him with everything from checking the car to doing his laundry. It’s amazing how much he’s taken for granted and I know this because I was the same way when I left. I’d never really been away from home other than to stay with relatives, so college was a cultural and environmental shock. I graduated with 650 students and my new roommate was from a class of 6. Wow!

My grandson went to visit the campus a couple of weeks ago just to walk around and see where his classes were so he didn’t have to stumble around the first week. I bet he still does some of that because Freshmen tend to stand out, no matter how sophisticated they think they are. Everything is new and your parents aren’t there to ask for help. Of course, now the kids all have cell phones where we had to get change and wait for the pay phone and make a long distance call, which was through the operator in those long gone days. It doesn’t really matter what the differences are in technology because the emotions are all the same.

This grandson is the oldest of the three boys who were born before my husband died, all born in an 8 month period before and during the time he was battling cancer. This oldest one had his first birthday exactly one week before his grandfather died. And here we are at our next chapter. My mind spins with memories of my own college days, his mother’s, and now the new images of him leaving. And then my mind takes many turns as it goes through memories of his mother as a child and this one’s birth and all the years in-between. Is it a wonder we get emotional with all of those images flying around?

My eyes get teary from happiness for him mixed with the ever-present concern based on the years of knowledge of all the things that can go wrong. I expect his parents will experience what we did, going from waiting up for him to come home to wondering where he is and what he’s doing in a new, wilder environment where we aren’t minutes away. What I can tell them is that parenting never stops, never ever. I still worry about them and feel a rush of relief when they are all home, safe and sound. It’s an uncontrollable component of parenting for me. I know there are people who let go and that’s fine, but I don’t seem to be able to do it. My kids are grown, accomplished, wonderful adults and I love and trust them, but they’re always going to be my kids. I’m a sentimental idiot about them. Nothing they do is too mundane for me to enjoy hearing about, good or bad. But, my mind wonders again.

That’s the problem with this college thing. It’s releasing all the old emotions and memories again, giving them new places to roam. Next year, my next two grandsons leave for college, so this is just the beginning of letting these kids go ahead and live their grown up lives. I have two grandsons in tenth grade this year and a grandson and granddaughter in 8th grade. I’ll be going to graduations and seeing them off to college a lot in the next few years. And then, there’s the one who’s heading into kindergarten. Will I be here to see her off to college and launching her new life?

The average person now starts having kids in their late twenties or thirties. I’ve commented many times about the danger of edging out grandparents along the way. My own grandparents were such an important part of my life that it makes me sad to think of generations of kids without grandparent. I hope I’ve been an important part of my grandchildren’s experiences and memories and I hope their parents can do the same for them. It’s one of the greatest gifts you get in life.

I’m imagining my grandson waking up in his room in the fraternity house with a new roommate from Texas, probably getting up late after staying up all night talking and getting to know each other and the other guys or finding his high school friends on other parts of the campus. It’s a heady time in life with all your dreams ahead of you and all the realities right in front of you. It’s a giant step. Working with college kids, I envy them the experience but not all the challenges that lie ahead as they study for exams, look for jobs, build relationships. 11899866_10207157287068278_5262443680856584506_n - Version 2

This will be an interesting week and I can’t wait to hear from my grandson. I’m proud of him and all my family and I’m so very grateful to be here to watch all of them in these next steps, step by step really, through life. 


My oldest grandchild turns 17 today.  Already?  It was just the other day that I was 17, wasn’t it?  About 51 years ago to tell the truth.  It doesn’t seem that long. . . except for everything that has happened since then.

Part of me is still 17 as I remember it.  I was well into my senior year in high school on my 17th birthday.  I still had braces on my teeth.  I had fallen in love with the boy who would be the older boy I married a few years later.  I was trying to figure out college and keep my grades up and was active in school activities and I played a lot.  At 17, we were the leaders of the school, the promise of the future.  Until we got to college and had to start over again.

When I was 17,  I worked a little, mainly tutoring, but most of my friends didn’t have jobs.  We studied and played.  We were the lucky ones.  We never knew what really went on in some of our classmates’  homes until many years later.  It was a time when people kept family secrets, when horrible things weren’t mentioned.  Life wasn’t as innocent as we were led to believe.

Seventeen was the end of my sheltered years, when I left home for the first time for college.  It was the end of the innocence for our country when our President was assassinated and we watched it all on television, over and over, although it wasn’t the 24 hr news cycle we have today.

When I was 17, we still used rotary dial phones and had to call the operator to make a long distance call.  We wrote letters to tell our grandmothers what was going on in our lives because long distance calls were special.  No direct dial long distance yet.  Technology was having a long cord on your phone so you could take it into a closet for privacy.  We walked a lot because not everyone had a car.  We went to the library for information because there were no computers.

Seventeen was a year of introspection for me.  I read a lot, a lot of heavy thoughts.  I was in the throes of being a new intellectual.  Mixed with being a fun-loving teenager.  How does that work – being an intellectual teenager?  Really?  And, I’m sure my parents didn’t understand me at all, because what parents ever do?

Mostly, seventeen was fun.  When I watch the movie “American Graffiti,” I see my senior year.  Move the scene from Los Angeles to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and you have my high school years, accurate to the dress, the music, the dances, the kids.   All the fun and angst and watching the world from a new perspective as you move from adolescence into pre-adulthood.  Some friends were getting there faster, getting married, getting jobs, having babies.  It was a time of change.

I’m lucky to have had a life that I can remember with such affection.  Very lucky.  I can see that now, looking back all those years.

My advice for my grandkids as they turn 17 is simple.  Enjoy, take it all in.  Learn from what you see and take it all with you on this exciting journey of life.

When I was 17. . . it was a very good year.

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There is nothing like live football to energize you in the fall. Televised is fine, a good thing, but you can’t beat seeing it live.

I’ve been to high school games since my grandson started playing. Friday night lights and all. He plays for my old high school, but it wouldn’t matter. The youthful enthusiasm, the fans, the band, the cheerleaders and pom squads all make it a fun event. Some schools are more like little colleges with their recruiting and digital screens and commitment to winning at any cost, but most are just like you remember. You watch the kids milling around the stands, the parents cheering for their kids, and sing the fight songs in the cool air. Victory is sweet and defeat stings. Just like life.


Yesterday, I went to a game at my college alma mater, Oklahoma State University. There’s nothing like college football in America. . .anywhere! Television hasn’t spoiled it, but it doesn’t show the energy that surrounds a game. There’s the tailgating, a new multi-million dollar industry from what I can see. The sophistication is amazing. There was a set up with an attached bar with barstools made of saddles under a rusted corrugated steel roof that was the tops for me. Too cool. There are big screen TVs in tents set up for the day with huge grills toted in behind pickups, custom made for game day. The logistics of it all are amazing, but the total devotion to tailgating is a thing of wonder.

There is energy all over a college campus on game day. I think it’s because you can’t help but catch some of the scent of youth in the air, whether it’s from remembering your own college days or from watching the kids who walk where you walk. It’s unique and invigorating. What a college recruitment tool. Taking kids to the game where you are having so much fun at your alma mater has to rub off a little of your love of the school on them. Or not. We all know kids will do what they want to do, we just hope they love what we love a little bit.

Inside a stadium during a college game, you are treated to all the university’s traditions throughout the day. The colors, the band, the fight songs and cheers, the music, the cheerleaders, pom squad, mascot, alums and students all add up to an atmosphere of love and loyalty. Sure, there are more breaks while the networks air their commercials, but the fans are treated to performances on the field. The cheers and moans are not felt through the TV screen, the half-time activities are cut for commercials and long analysis from wordy commentators who have to fill air time. It’s a whole different experience being there.

In this modern football setting, you get replays at the game and updates from other games and people check their phones to see what else is going on in the world, the real world and the football world. You aren’t in your easy chair at home with the ready snacks and ability to switch from game to game. Even if you’re watching with friends, there is still something missing that you can only get live.

We fortunate ones live in a world of ease of getting our entertainment when and where we want it. It’s great and all that. But there’s nothing like going to a live football game. There’s nothing like approaching the stadium and the campus and having memories sweep over you or just feeling the excitement. There’s nothing like it. So American in all the best ways. We do know how to have fun, don’t we?


Here’s how I got to this topic today…

I saw a movie about Joan of Arc, the one starring Ingrid Bergman as a 3o something year old playing a 16 year old, although she did a great job with what she had.  I’ve always loved the story of Joan of Arc and find her story absolutely fascinating.  Late last year, I had seen an old movie of Joan of Arc, I think it was silent, that had been on a list of top ten movies or female performances or something of all time.  It was based on the actual transcripts of Joan of Arc’s trial and was just brutal.  The poor actress never acted again.

Anyway, that took my confetti brain to a paper I wrote in college when I was taking a semester of Mark Twain in graduate school.  My thesis for that class was on Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, not one of his more well known books, but one he called his favorite.  The book was highly criticized when it was published, probably because it was so different from his other works, especially the ones where he viewed religions so irreverently.  It was called too sentimental and not historically correct.  I took the stand, with all my 21 years of experience, that Twain based the work on more historic truth than they thought.  He probably did base his own image of Joan on his beloved daughter, Susie.

Those thoughts morphed into memories of those term papers that I always seemed to be writing.  As an English major, it was part of the deal.  While I was taking the Twain class, I was also teaching Freshman Composition as a graduate assistant, having to teach how to write those papers.  In those golden old days, a research paper was a tedious thing, unless you really liked researching, which I did.  It required many visits to the library, a grand place to go at Oklahoma State University.  There you plowed through the card catalogue by hand, looking for anything remotely connected to your topic.  Then you had to find this book or article and either check it out or sit in the library and read it.  I think I made notes on little note cards for some reason.  Maybe I organized them into something…who knows.

After you digested all of this information, you took all the notes and started writing a rough draft…by hand.  I learned to write papers in junior high and high school, using the rules in this little blue book, which I can’t believe I still have.  I may need it some day and it does have really good information on just writing in general.


Either in high school or college, I also used this book, good old Strunk & White.  While writing this, I looked it up and found that it was considered antiquated just a few years ago.  If you know nothing about writing, it still gives you some good lessons.


After you had your final draft finished, and you may have had to write several, you were faced with some of the low tech of the time.  Papers had to be turned in typed, sometimes with more than one copy.  We didn’t have copiers then, so we used carbon paper.  I knew people who had to have several copies of each paper.  Oh yeah, there could be no errors.  Sometimes, the professor would let you get by with one or two.  Picture sitting down at your typewriter, which was an electric one by the time I got to college.  I learned to type on a manual.  Electric typewriters were all we had until word processors came into being by the time some of my kids were in college.  At least they had copiers.

Anyway, you sat down to type your paper, which had to have footnotes and a bibliography, knowing you couldn’t have any mistakes.  There was also the time factor because few college students got to this point until the night before the paper was due…no matter how long you had worked on it.  You had to stop and roll the paper down part way to insert the footnote number, hoping you would get the paper back in the same spot.  And you had to plan when to stop the page so that you could have room for the footnotes.  It was a delicately balanced process.

Then came the dreaded mistake.  You had to peel back each copy and correct each one with a typewriter eraser and something to scrape off the carbon word.  Later we got Liquid Paper, although teachers didn’t like that so much.  Even later was correcting paper or tape.  Imagine a 20 page paper with this process.  I’m cringing now…and I was an excellent typist.

OK.  You finished the final page and rolled it out of the typewriter.  Then you had to proofread the paper.  Oh no!  You find an error and you have to start all over.  I was a student counselor in the dorm as an undergraduate and saw some real drama with term papers.  When I was teaching….well, I saw some real interesting final products.  And you might have more than one paper due at the same time.  Super drama!

So, I have gone from Joan of Arc to this tale of research papers.  I’m so grateful for what that old process taught me.  There was a real sense of accomplishment when you had a good idea and found information to prove it.  There was a discipline to it all.   I don’t know how they teach this process today or why it’s nearly as hard with computers, but I’m sure it is.  Students are students and they probably still write their papers the night before.

This is one of those times I’m just glad I can look back on all of it and don’t have assignments due or grades to worry about.  Life is worrisome enough after college.  In fact, those worries don’t seem so big now.  Happy Spring Term to all those students out there.  You’ll end up ok, even if you procrastinate.  Smile.

The Beatles are forever linked in my memory with my freshman year in college.  I was 17 when I left for Oklahoma State University with very little preconception of what the experience would be.  I picked that school on my own, probably because of friends going there, and was adjusting to all the freedoms and adventures that go with it.  I had never lived anywhere like the dorm with a stranger for a roommate, community bathroom, little privacy, and a whole lot of new and old friends.  In that time, there was a phone in the hall and pay phones on the first floor.  We did have a sink in our room, but no big technology or major appliances other than a lamp, hairdryer, popcorn popper, clock-radio and record player.  Yes, record player.

In November, just as we were settling in, President Kennedy was assassinated.  I can’t tell you what a shock that was to kids away from home who had never felt unsafe before.  I heard about it in badminton class and we sat in shock.  Don’t laugh at the badminton class.  We had to have four gym credits for our well rounded education.  I did quite well in badminton.  Anyway, the assassination made us call home to check in with our parents, stay up late discussing it with our very new friends, and watch it over and over on the television set in the basement of the dorm. Our world had changed forever.  Looking back, everything changed that day in ways that became more pronounced every year since.  From a life of innocence and tranquility (at least to us), every year brought more violence, more disruption.  Nothing was ever the same.

After the holidays, we heard about a new musical group that was going to be on Ed Sullivan.  I think I read in the paper about The Beatles and the uproar they were causing in England.  The only thing close in our lifetime was Elvis, but we had been younger when he was starting out.  The boys we knew had crew cuts, the Twist had been popular the year before, and we had embraced folk music, listening to the Kingston Trio, Peter Paul & Mary, Joan Baez.  We went from coffee shop to rock and roll.  The Beatles came at a good time.  We needed a pick me up after the darkness of fall.

On the Sunday of that Ed Sullivan show in February, someone brought a portable TV from home.  The closest station was out of Oklahoma City, so we balanced the set on the window sill of a fourth floor dormer window and wrapped the antenna with foil for better reception on that tiny screen.  All the girls who could cram in that dorm room, girls from towns of a few hundred to girls from the cities, were waiting to see.  Our first view brought exclamations.  Their hair was long!  I remember commenting it looked cute.  We all thought they were cute…wonder what the guys who were watching thought that night?  And there was the music and the girls in the audience screaming and the boys singing to that seemingly simple beat.  We loved it.  We somehow knew that this was another historic night, another milestone we would talk about in terms of where we were when we first heard them.

Could two events be so different and so important in such different ways?  That was the year I went from being 17 to 18.  That was a year to remember and learn from.  My freshman year in college was an education of a different kind it turned out.  I remember it well.