Tag: college (page 1 of 5)

Another year gone: Let’s do the Time Warp again!


Dear Wendy,

Time: it’s a funny old thing, isn’t it?

I honestly don’t know how this happened, but Rachel is done with college for another year. Exams are done, final projects handed in, lockers cleaned out, dorm rooms emptied (a whole other story, which my aching back will be happy to tell you about for some time to come), and…that’s a wrap, kiddies!


Good-bye, dorm kitchen!

College: Year 2 is done and dusted.

In September 2012, when we first dipped our toes into this whole “mostly empty nest” thing, it seemed like the school year would last forever.

I remember bidding a slightly tearful farewell to Rachel at Thanksgiving in October, and thinking that it would be ages before we saw one another again at Christmas.

This past September, I was a lot more sanguine about it, and sure enough, this year has zipped past as if it were on fast-forward.

If this keeps up, she’ll be completing fourth year in about five minutes, and her master’s degree in five seconds flat. I’m pretty sure she won’t be doing a Ph.D., which is a good thing since at this rate, she’ll have finished it before she even started.

The journey out is always longer

Actually, I have a theory about this whole time-compression thing.

You remember when we were kids and our parents would take us on those seemingly interminable car rides around the Nova Scotia countryside to visit the pilots who worked for Dad? It was a bit like when the Queen goes walkabout, except it involved driving to places like Herring Cove, Lunenburg, Digby, Shelburne, Port Hawkesbury, Bridgewater, and North Sydney.

We’d set out on a Saturday morning, and from my queasy, carsick point of view in the back seat, we’d drive aimlessly along interminable highways and country roads for hours and hours and hours. Eventually we’d locate that week’s victim’s house, where we’d disembark and be told to sit quietly and not make nuisances of ourselves, while Mum and Dad partook of the hospitality of the house.

Eventually we’d leave, and the drive home always seemed to take about half the time of the trip out—because now I knew where we were going, I recognized landmarks I’d noted on the way out, and each minute took us closer to home (and merciful relief from carsickness).

My point, and I do have one, is that when you know where you’re going, and you’ve made the journey already, each successive trip seems shorter by comparison.

The parenting time warp

As I think about it, this applies to parenting as well.

For instance: back when Adrian was a baby, it seemed to me that my life would never be anything other than an endless round of diapers, drool, and breastfeeding. From the perspective of a brand new parent, babyhood seems like it’ll never end…until finally, you graduate into toddlerhood, preschool-hood…and then the school years. (I was going to say “school-hood,” but that starts to sound like it has criminal overtones, so let’s leave it at that, shall we?)

By the time you and your child are in the school years, things take on a kind of sameness from year to year, and suddenly you know pretty much where you’re going from one September to the next. You understand the rhythm, you have a general idea what to expect.


How is this even possible? Beats the heck out of me. All I know is that it took about five minutes, tops.

And that’s when the whole time-speeding-up thing starts. By the time our kids are in high school, we’re acutely aware that our time with them at home will be limited (and we’re right).

Incidentally, go ahead and tell all this to a mother who’s just had her first baby. Go on, I dare you. You’ll come away with a bloody nose, guaranteed.

I can’t even tell you how many times some well-intentioned soul told me, “Savour this time! It goes by so fast!” while I was trying to cope with the whole shit and stringbeans deal. I remember smiling sweetly, nodding, and thinking to myself that I would like to stab that person in the hand with a fork.

And yet, by the time I had Rachel, I knew very well how fleeting her infancy and toddlerhood would be; I knew what to look for, how long the ride would take…and most of all, I knew that each phase would be a lot shorter than I expected.

I also knew that the trip likely wouldn’t involve me being carsick, which was a total bonus.

So as we embark on another summer with Rachel at home, I need to remember that the time between now and September will be infinitesimally short…and that we should enjoy it while it lasts.






The Revolving Door: Parenting in the not-quite-empty nest

Dear Wendy,

Back before Rachel left for college, I had this naive idea that I was about to become an “empty nester.” Continue reading

Awesome Advice Central goes all the way…

Dear, like, Awesome Advice Central,

I’m, like 22 years old, right?  And, like, a girl?  And I’ve got a boyfriend, Trey?  Like, he’s totes awesome and all, and I love him, okay?

The thing is, though, like he’s not my, like, first, know what I mean?  There was Chase, Lauder, Mandible and Thor, but like, it was only physical with them.

Like, I liked them, okay?  I just didn’t like, LOVE them.  Not like I like, LOVE Trey.

He just makes me feel, like…squee!!

alt="IMAGE-champale-advertisement"So, like the other night?  Finally, after some Baby Duck Champale and some oysters on Ritz crackers, I put on some Barry White and Let.  The.  Good.  Times.  Roll.

Trey wouldn’t mind, if I, like told you, that this was his first time, right?  So I guess you could say I was in charge of this rodeo, haha.

Things are going pretty good between me and him, and suddenly, I whispered in his ear, “Oh, Cha-, I mean La-, ZOMG, NO, I mean Ma-Thor-ey!!”

Things went kinda downhill from there, right?  Know what I mean?  Like, it was sooooo not cool.

I was like, totes embarrassed and now he won’t talk to me in class and I don’t know how to make it up to him.  I mean, I guess I do, but I was told it was illegal in 3 states, and like, I’m a law student and don’t wanna break the law, right?

It really sucks, cos I love him so much. But, like,  now I’m worried that he’ll fail me in class, just cos of this one teensy mistake.  Like, okay, it wasn’t that teensy, but like, you know, it wasn’t like, major BIG or anything, just an innocent mistake.  Right?

Help me, please?

Pleading not guilty,  your honor!

Sandy S. Axemouth

Dear Sandy,

We here at Awesome Advice Central feel that you really ought to take responsibility for the consequences of your actions.

alt="IMAGE-cat-suicide"For example: the first translator we hired to decipher your most interesting missive lasted approximately 5 minutes. We found her crouched in the corner of her office, gnawing on her own wrists and jabbering unintelligibly. The poor woman had to be sedated, and we’re not sure we’ll be able to use her again.

Fortunately, the second translator was made of sterner stuff, and managed to slog through your abominable communiqué—just. Before she expired, she was able to gasp out the gist of your problem, which we will summarize as:

“I am an ardent heterosexualist with a penchant for men with odd and/or naff names. Using a combination of cheap hooch, unpleasant hors d’ouevres, and cheesy music, I managed to seduce my law professor—possibly because he lacked experience and didn’t know any better. Unfortunately, while we were doing the deed, I let slip that he was neither my first, second, third, nor even fourth conquest. He took this news rather personally, and I now fear for my academic future, as well as my love life.”

Assuming we’ve got it right, we’d suggest your course is clear.

Your ability to rattle on without communicating anything of substance, your instinct to weasel out of situations rather than facing them head-on, as well as your grandiose overestimation of your own insubstantial charms, indicate a brilliant future for you as a politician.

In that spirit, we suggest you tell Trey that you are really, really, really sorry; if you’re lucky, he’ll buy it. (Hey, it worked for Rob Ford.)

And for God’s sake, next time you’re in flagrante, keep your damn trap shut. Honestly, we shouldn’t have to spell this out to you.

With some trepidation, we remain,

Awesome Advice Central


WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand

Dear Wendy,

The word for this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is “Grand,” and I think I have a couple of pics that qualify.

This past week Rachel’s school term ended, and it was time to pack her, her laundry, several projects, and a pothos plant into the car for the trip home. (Apparently it was important to bring the plant, since she’s managed to keep it alive since September and was worried that it would be lonely, or perhaps deceased, if she abandoned it for a whole month.)

Before we could leave for the return trip, though, I got to attend college for the morning, trailing along behind her and trying not to look too conspicuous.


Here’s my first interpretation of “Grand”–spending a morning with my (extremely tall and very grand) daughter!

Also grand: each of the various profs I encountered sidled up to me and whispered that Rachel is talented, hard-working, and an all-round excellent student. That’s definitely the way to my heart: tell me you think my kids are terrific, and you could be an axe-murderer or even a politician—I’d still think you were a grand person, and a discerning judge of character.

Another reason for celebration: November is over! Which means that all the menfolk can shave those odd-looking caterpillars and Fu Manchus off their faces, and return to a slightly less hirsute state.

And by “menfolk” I include this fine group of fellows, Shopify crew members all…


Though they look pretty sharp with their facial hair, I’ll look forward to seeing Adrian’s upper lip once more. Truly a grand moment. (Photo: Shopify)

…and Adrian. Especially Adrian.

Knowing he grew his ‘stache to support the Movember prostate cancer awareness campaign? Excellent.

But knowing he’ll shave it off now that the month is done? That, my dear, will be grand.



Paying it forward: An answer to student debt?

Dear Wendy,

Here’s a fun thought: try to imagine you’re 24 years old, a recent university grad with your teaching diploma clutched firmly in your hot little paws, and a decent entry-level job in your sights. In fact, you’ve been offered the job, but it’s about 3,000 miles from where you currently live, and it’s located in Canada’s frozen north.

And that’s fine with you (you’re still 24, stay with me here), because you’ve lived there before and liked it. But there’s a catch: to take the job, you have to move north, but your bank account has been frozen, and you have no access to the money you need to get there.

Why is your account frozen? Well, you see, your family wasn’t able to pay for your years in university, so you did it all on student loans. And now you owe the government $50,000. And because (until now) you haven’t been able to find a job, you haven’t been able to pay them back, so you kept putting the loan collectors off, which tends to make government them kind of mean and tetchy.

Hence the frozen account. And the inability to take the job that would enable you to pay your debt.


Sorry kid, you can’t move. Literally. (Image: PBS.org)

This situation sounds hypothetical, but it’s not. It’s currently happening to the daughter of a friend. If it were happening to one of my kids, it would make me crazy. Crazier. Whatever.

My friend is trying to be all chill about it, but you can see it in her eyes: she’s worried about her daughter’s financial future, and with excellent reason. She’s not in a position to help out much, so all she can do is sit and watch, and hope it all works out. Not exactly a proactive solution.


Worrying accomplishes nothing. That’s the problem.

And apparently my friend’s daughter is not alone: according to the Canadian Federation of Students, the average Canadian student will leave university or college carrying a $27,000 debt. It’ll take that student about 10 years to pay it back, assuming they’re able to find work upon graduation. (As Rachel correctly pointed out, this means that if she graduates with $0 in debt, some other student is graduating with…yeah, about $50,000.)

Your kids and mine have been lucky—our families have been able to pay for their post-secondary education. It’s not always easy to do, but we’re managing so far.

But not all families have the resources we have, or even (sometimes) the inclination to support their children through college. Does that mean their kids must resign themselves to working at McJobs for the rest of their lives?

I was listening to CBC’s weekday morning show, The Current, the other day, when a piece came on about a new “pay-it-forward” system of post-secondary education funding.

You have to know my ears perked right up—because as far as I’m concerned, no 24-year-old should be saddled with a crippling debt before her work life has even begun. (That should come later, in her 30s, when she’s had a chance to make some foolish investment choices, buy the wrong house and try to sell it in a down market, and then take that ill-advised world cruise…armed only with a credit card and a smile.)

So what’s a pay-it-forward system? Glad you asked.

Basically, instead of borrowing money to attend school, students would attend for free (wait, I’m not done, don’t start hyperventilating just yet). After they graduate, though, they’d be obliged to fork over a small percentage of their yearly income, whatever that might be, for a certain length of time. I believe the figures bandied about on The Current were 1.5% of yearly income for college grads, and 3% for university grads.

This money would be put into a trust fund that would fully fund some other kid’s education…and that student would then do the same for the students behind him or her.

The oddest thing about this, to me at least, is that the proposal isn’t the brainchild of some pinko Canadian social policy analyst; it originated with a guy named John Burbank, who founded Seattle’s Economic Opportunity Institute. And it’s currently under serious consideration by the Oregon State Legislature.


What price education? (Credit: hxdbzxy via Shutterstock/Salon)

If the system is implemented, it won’t help my friend’s daughter. But if a pay-it-forward approach really took hold, it could have some profound implications for post-secondary education. For one thing, it would put it within reach of students who currently steer clear of college, for fear of piling up a giant debt load.

I can foresee some potholes along the way—for one thing, it would take time for a decent-sized trust fund to accumulate, and meanwhile someone would have to carry the cost of education.

And then there’s the potential for abuse, with students signing up for college as a way to defer their entry into the workforce. Oh, wait. Some kids actually do this now. Never mind.

But handled right, and administered sensibly, Oregon’s pay-it-forward approach could conceivably help a lot of families, and a lot of students, who might otherwise never have the chance at a good education.

What do you think?



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