Friday, September 21, 2012

Like Shane's Sneakers

By Laura Bradford

During the latter part of last school year, my eldest daughter and I began looking at colleges. Two of the ones we saw were high on her written list--both falling off that list after our campus visit. The third visit really just happened because I was speaking at a book event in the same town as College X and they were having an open house on the same day. Surprisingly, she liked several things about the school and deemed it a "good standby."

Fast forward to this past week when we set off in the opposite direction of the first three schools to see two more. One, again, took itself off the list. The other--we'll call College Yes--jettisoned itself to the top.

From the time we drove up, you could tell this place was perfect for her--small size, well-kept buildings, cozy feel, great great program in the major she wants to pursue, and warm people.  The general information session/student-led tour gave us a personal view of the campus, while the tour my daughter set up with her department-of-choice's director gave us an amazing behind the scenes look at her major and the opportunities available to her.

Watching her throughout the day, I knew we'd found her place--the place she'd been worrying she wouldn't find after so many schools hadn't lived up to their spots on her list. And just as happened with my stepson during his college visits last year--there was even a "sign" that pointed to this school.

A sign, you ask?

Last year, after visiting the campus my stepson ultimately chose, he woke up in the hotel room talking about a dream he'd had...a dream where he was wearing green and yellow sneakers (the school's colors).

This year, during my daughter's visit, the tour took us through one of the academic buildings that housed a tall glass case with a stuffed polar bear. My daughter's first and only teddy bear--the one that still sleeps in her bed at 17 years of age--is a polar bear. She's had her since she was 6 weeks old.

We both took one look at the polar bear (as the student tour guide is saying, "none of us know why this bear is here...he just is.") and my daughter's face breaks into a wider smile than she's already had throughout the day and says..."Mom, it's a sign. Like Shane's sneakers."

Tell me, do you believe in signs?


  1. Oh, yes, Laura, I do, but I'm part Cherokee and Choctaw. My Cherokee grandmother used to tell me when I was small that the Cherokee don't go on vision quests to find signs because they don't need to. They stay alert to the signs given them in the everyday world around them. And I've found this to be absolutely true.

    And by that, I don't necessarily mean all those charts of dream or other signs that are floating around. Most signs are very personal and individual, such as Shane's sneakers or your daughter's polar bear.

    I'm so glad she found her "right" place. I worked in higher ed for decades and saw how many students and parents follow the rankings, as to what would be best for them, without taking the individual student's needs into account. Yes, Dad might feel proud to tell everyone Junior's going an Ivy, but Junior might be happier and more successful at a state school or a small, less famous school that meets his needs.

  2. Linda, you get it. I love those unexpected signs that just pop up in front of you at the right time.

    She'll apply to other places, of course, but I think this is top on her list by a ton.

  3. Finding the right place is key and glad that it happened so early in the process for your daughter. My daughter felt the same way about the school she chose...even more so after she went to Orientation. It is such a relief for child and parent. :-) Maggie

  4. She was feeling it was late in the process because of the fact that the schools we toured the last quarter of her junior year were such duds.

    Finding it is one relief. Paying for it, is quite another... :)

  5. I agree with you and Linda. The signs that tell us we're on the right path are often those small moments of recognition or comfort. Glad the Panda bear was there!

    I found the college search process a remarkable opportunity to learn about each of my kids and to see first-hand just how ready they were to take this next step. It was very reassuring.

    Enjoy the hunt -- and the time together!


  6. You know something, Evelyn? I hadn't really thought of it the way you said it, but you're so right...this process is a neat way to learn more about her and to see that she is, indeed, ready (even if she's worried she's not).

  7. I loved the cross country college trip when I visited the Pacific NW with my son. We so needed the time together. And, yes, I believe in signs. I believe we are led to be in a specific place. We can fight it all we want, but ultimately, the universe wins out.

    And when the universe doesn't win? We don't love our lives. I've been there too.