The College Visit – Syracuse University – Go Orange! #DadChat

Category: Weekly Columns

VPA - square

I am on the train, returning from visiting Syracuse University with my son. It wasn’t a traditional junior-year college visit because he had already been accepted under “early decision” and had already committed. Nonetheless, the experience was probably pretty similar to the college visits many kids and parents embark on. For my son and me, it was truly awesome. Yeah, I used the over-used “A” word, because it perfectly captures the spirit of the past 24 hours best.

Aaron at Syracuse Stage

My son is a gifted young man. Of course, every parent tends to view his or her kid(s) as special so I won’t elaborate other than to say he was accepted into a very small program at a very prestigious university. According to the admissions officer we met during our visit, there were several hundred applicants for 10 spots in this program. There were perhaps one or two that were accepted under “early decision” and my son was one of them.

The ultimate comment from this university official was that he’s met many of the kids in this program and they were all very special, but after meeting my son he said he’s met the most impressive of the bunch. Heck, I did most of the talking! However he came to that conclusion, he only expressed how I feel, felt, and how proud I am of my son and his journey so far. I hope and expect he will have extraordinary experience and success as he embarks on this next leg of his life.

Visiting a university AFTER you’ve been accepted, after you’ve “committed,” and after the fact is different, to say the least. The majority of the kids on the tour and at the orientation meeting were high school juniors. There were a few kids already accepted that were there, but few had already committed.

Syracuse Panorama1

My son was “convinced” about attending Syracuse before we got off the train, on a late and cold and dark evening. He began commenting on how terrific everything was, from the dreary weather (“it’s refreshing”) to the fact that the train was late (“who cares!”).

The next day, we took “the tour” and went to the orientation. It was a “refreshing” day with a sun peeking out now and then, a slight breeze, and the temps hovering around 35. I’m serious. I loved it. There was still some snow on the ground and the imposing VPA (Visual and Performing Arts) school building makes for an impressive sight.

Syracuse has that old-school feeling and atmosphere of something that has been around for nearly 150 years. It has a sense of community that is palpable. The pride is evident by the abundant orange everywhere. Yes, we did go to the student store and stock up on hats, tees, sweatshirts, key-chains, and more. I was almost as enthusiastic as my son.

Bruce and Aaron on campus - small res

Like any good sales pitch, the student guides and the admissions officers that spoke with us were well trained, enthusiastic, and clearly proud of their institution. Taking all they said on face value, it was certainly understandable.

My son had the added benefit of having his best friend already attending Syracuse. She is a freshman and she became his secondary guide. She genuinely loves it there so her comments were not part of any script.

Wisely, and because I was exhausted, I allowed my son and she to go off and explore while I took a much-needed nap. He came back, before we all went to dinner, truly glowing red from excitement. Or was it the cold, as the evening had descended?

Aaron panorama

We ate dinner at The Dinosaur BBQ, an institution in the town and worthy of its fame. While waiting to get seated, I met three co-eds who were on the track team. They were extremely fun and gracious and we had a spirited conversation. They, too, love Syracuse.

We pigged out on the awesome food. Frankly, I think I’ll be coming back to visit more for this restaurant than any need to see my son!

He will start his freshman year in August. My wife will likely take him to move in and get to see where her stepson is going and, I’m sure, share my feelings of “way to go” and how terrific it appears to be. Neither my wife or I had that college experience of going to a school for four years and really having the opportunity to bond with the place and the people.

Aaron in front of VPA - postcard-style

I know my son will get the most he can from these next few years. And, frankly, I’m a bit envious.