Those Good Old College Daze

Applying to colleges these days just ain't what it used to be.

     Good morning and greetings, Final Four fans. Tonight the NCAA will crown its national basketball champion, as the soon-to-be millionaires from the University of Kentucky take on the Kansas Jayhawks.

     As a young point guard growing up in New Jersey, I would lay in bed at night listening to the play-by-play of the Kentucky Wildcats games on my radio. Even though the bluegrass state was close to 600 miles away, the reception was as clear as Rick Santorum’s views on abortion, same sex marriage and Whoopi Goldberg joining the cast of Fox’s “Glee” for a multi-episode arc.

     When my family would go on road trips, my father liked to play “College Bowl” in the car, which was a quiz show that broadcast in the 1960′s. Two four-member teams from different universities would compete by buzzing in and answering toss up questions before moving on to the bonus round. My father would ask what college I wanted to be and I would invariably choose between Kentucky, Princeton or Faber.

     Fortunately, both my brothers were still younger than me at the time, so the competition wasn’t all that stiff. Still, my father would always try to stump me with a math question like, “If an electric train is traveling 80 MPH and it needs to cross three time zones to reach its destination by 3 p.m., what did the engineer have for breakfast?”

     The reason I bring this up is that March Madness is about more than who will be cutting down the nets tonight in New Orleans. This month is also synonymous with colleges sending out acceptance and rejection letters to high school students, who are trying to figure out where, after living at home for their wonder years, they will be residing for the next four. Since our son Jason is a senior, I’ve had a bird-eye view of this process that gently lures our children away from us and puts them on the college dining hall food plan.

     In the fall it was application city, as Jason wrote enough essays to put together another Book of Psalms. When it was time for me to leave my parent’s abode, (back before there was history) I applied to three colleges, Northwestern, Syracuse and American University. I was accepted at all three, and since I could drive to Syracuse but had to fly to attend Northwestern, I chose the lovely confines of the cloud belt of New York State.

     Unfortunately, I didn’t read in the fine print that it would go from winter to summer with no spring in my sophomore year, an event that led me on my manifest destiny to this cold water paradise called Santa Cruz. Turns out Syracuse was an old Indian word meaning “where the sky never stays blue very long” and since I was only going to be an undergraduate for seven years, I wanted to get an education somewhere that would leave me with a degree and a tan.

     But let’s get back to my first born. After my son finished writing essays like “Tell us about your allergies, dreams and aspirations, why your future roomate won’t hate you and if you were a college course, what would you be?,” he then went into a hibernation period from the college dream while waiting to experience the joy and disappointments. At this point, some of the dreams are still alive, as to paraphrase Foreigner, “I’ve been waiting for a school like you to come into my life.”

     The college acceptance rate is as nutty as a holiday fruitcake, as there are way too many qualified applicants who all want to go to the same place. When 38,000 applicants apply for 2,400 spots, there is something wacky with the system. Seems everyone wants to go to the same place. I don’t want to say what these places are, but they rhyme with Harvard and Stanford.

     So who gets in and who gets rejected is as random as it gets, and even if you wish upon a star, your dreams always don’t come true. As of this writing, we don’t know exactly where our first born is headed, but we know it’s in the right direction in a golden state. But wherever he goes he’ll do just fine, as he will shine like Bruce Willis’ dome on a sunny day. I’m just going to miss seeing the light show.

     Speaking of light, for today’s photo entree we are serving up the second half of the February 2 experience. Last week we observed the lovely morning’s activities, so today we are heading out to Natural Bridges to witness the second half of the daily double sunrise/sunset extravaganza.

     The first four shots were taken at my favorite state park at the end of West Cliff Drive, before I headed south and photographed the color disappearing over the Pacific. The evening had a bit of a golden glow to it, and anytime I shoot the sunrise and sunset in the same day I always sleep a little better at night. That is, except for those endless trips to the bathroom. Gee, I love getting older.

     To check out these photos, click on http://www.SunriseSantaCruz.com/blog

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