Representing Binghamton Once More

Twice this week I represented Binghamton University (otherwise known as SUNY-B) and had a great time, but also used it as a chance to see high schoolers in a slightly different setting. After all, I’ve been with them nearly every day since early January and I’ve gotten to know them as a group.

The first night was a reception for recently accepted students; a final sales pitch in the hopes of getting them to commit to SUNY-B. People came from all over the state, with at least one parent in tow, and were given a tailored presentation about the school and what happens once people do commit. Three alum, Deb and myself included, also spoke to the group. Interestingly, all three of us brought different college and life experiences to the discussion so while there was overlap; there were also a lot of individual comments.

It’s hard to say if we swayed anyone but the questions afterwards were all pointed and smart so at least they were taking it seriously. In one-on-one conversation before and after, the students mostly spoke for themselves, expressing their own interests and concerns. A few parents told us how much they appreciated hearing from alumni, including several from different aspects of publishing so we talked a little shop, too.

The second night was Fairfield’s college fair where we once more spoke about our school. We were among 150 colleges and universities on hand and over 90 minutes we were kept fairly busy. But, these were not senior nearing the end of their high school careers. These were juniors just getting serious about the college hunt. They wandered with overwhelmed expressions on their faces, some clutching sheets with previously noted colleges acting as a checklist.

We stood there and greeted those who came by as I also waved to many a familiar face. (This may well be the only public event I have not seen Tony Hwang carrying his camera.) But, the kids, accompanied by parents, weren’t asking a lot of questions without me or a parent prompting them. In many cases, the parents directed the conversation, speaking for the silent child. Most asked about majors, did we have this or that? And with 100 majors, we most said yes but had to admit to not having a few. Some kids asked about what are the most popular majors, a question I had not heard in previous years. It shouldn’t matter since choosing a major is a personal decision but it seemed to carry weight which also explains the Top 40 music charts.

Many looked at the GPA or SAT averages for the class of 2013 and shook their heads. Many worried they might match the numbers and still not get in. A few saw the numbers and left immediately. Amazingly, given the proximity and how well ranked the school is in all the guidebooks, kids and parents alike had no clue who we were.

Two alumni and their children came by which was nice to see as well as a girl who bucked the trend, wearing her Binghamton sweatshirt and having already visited the campus twice. She, out of all I spoke to, was clear in her choice and desire.

It will certainly remain interesting to be in the field and see this evolution among the students who I will one day be teaching.

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