College Revisited

So by now, you may know two things about me. (1) I am an adjunct professor at a local university and (2) I LOVED college–Southern University A&M College, to be exact.

I work at a predominately white institution (PWI) (that’s up for debate, by the looks of campus).  My college experience is so different from my experience as a teacher, as I constantly try to be the responsible “adult.” I never thought those two parts of  my life would collide..until last week.

Every spring, the university brings awesome speakers in their speaker series, and if I’m teaching I usually require students to attend. So far, we’ve seen Angela Davis, Cornell West and this time, Spike Lee. Considering most of my students are born AFTER 1990, I wasn’t sure if they knew the impact of Mr. Lee’s work. If anything, maybe they’d heard about the drama over Tyler Perry (He didn’t really get into it, btw. He refused to disrespect his work, thank God.) or maybe they’d seen School Daze atleast a zillion times on TVONe.  Bottom line: We weren’t going to miss out.

I arrived nearly two hours early to check out the new University Center and get a good spot in line, as the event was expected to reach capacity. Twenty minutes later, I walked out of the UC with a few old high school classmates and friends (it was open to the public) to wait for the doors to open. It was then that the annoyance and “I’m getting old” syndrome set in. Here’s what I saw:

The I’m On the Runway Girls: They walked pass everyone in line with the WTF face on, as if waiting in line was beneath them. (Yeah, they had to get in line, too). Open-toe sandals and cleavage with no jackets were on deck. Nevermind that it was 50 degrees out. Beauty is pain, right?

The group of AKAs: Since everyone of them had on pink and green from head to toe, I guess it must have been AKA week? Between hair flipping and whipping out stunna shades in cloudy weather weather, they managed to summon their entire chapter to their one spot in line (which was right behind me).

The Artsy-Fartsy group: The ones with the wayfarer glasses, skinny jeans, high-top fades. There’s bound to be atleast one cynical, sarcastic person in the group.

The Lonely Que: I know there’s a chapter on campus, but there’s always one visiting Que barking on the yard, asking, “Aye, where da Bruhz at?”

The Alphas (Event Hosts): If you’re greek, you’ve had this moment atleast once. It was their “program,” so half of them walked in late, suited up with an “I’m better than you” air about them. Get like them, I guess.

The Gay Dudes: A small group of guys who were obviously gay, wearing  mean struts and attitudes to match their colorful jeans.

The Student Government Association Clique: The kids who always school/SGA paraphernalia and may possibly be all for said event or deadset against it because it’s “out of order.”

You get the point. With every scream and shriek from a sorority girl who saw her linesister or every guy who had a complaint about how many seats the Alphas were reserving for their “brothers,” I became more and more annoyed. I couldn’t relate to those “children.”

It then occurred to me that about 7 years ago, I was one of those people in atleast two of those groups aforementioned. Hell, when Homecoming comes around, I’m back in that student mode.

I lived to walk around the Union at noon on Pretty Wednesday (memories!) with my shades on, hair blowing in the wind. I even liked going to class (I’m a nerd, always will be) and kiki’ing with my classmates and clowning on the Strip. I loved seeing my linesisters, hugging them as if I didn’t just see them an hour ago. We were an army (better yet, a Navy). I, too, was a part of SGA, so I wore those t-shirts and encouraged students to come to campus events. I walked across a gigantic campus in tight jeans and heels damn near daily. And I loved every minute of it.

It’s just what you do. It’s college.

So while that huge, very eclectic group of students made me want to pull my eyelashes out one by one, I recognize that they’re just playing their parts as students. Maybe I was slightly jealous that my school ID has FACULTY on it now, instead of STUDENT. It is true that those years are the best years of your life, and you can’t get them back.

On the contrary, I’m grateful for my college experiences and they have better prepared me for the experiences I have as a full-grown adult. I’m thankful that I’m mature enough to know that play time is over and I can’t think or act like I did when I was 20 (except for Homecoming). I love my life–mortgage, bills, responsibility and all. I wouldn’t trade it to go back. Then my memories would be useless. What’s life without memories?

What do you remember most about your college experience, if you attended? Good, bad? If you’re in college now, are you ready for the Real World?

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11 thoughts on “College Revisited

  1. Enjoyed this post! What I find interesting the similiarities between what I experience going to a majority institution and your experience going to an HBCU. Seems like we had the same cliques amongst the minorities, just in a smaller scales. College taught me so much and days I wish I can go back, but overall I love my “adult” life now.

  2. I’ve been to a few colleges, but my “best” college experience came from my freshman year at Mizzou. I was dating the president of the Ques and definitely caught up in the partying lifestyle while there… but between meeting incredible people, dancing for the black dance team, and the parties, etc… I feel like I got the typical college experience. Yes, nowadays those same cliques you mentioned can be annoying… but mainly because i feel so grown and beyond the college hype. I love my life and responsiblities and I’m glad I’ve grown up… everything is fun in its right time.

  3. this was a good read.. got me to thinking of that first day of every semester.. Mayberry.. probates.. road trips.. and characters on the yard like, “Casey”.. Even thinking about random boring weekends make me sigh bc they give me that joy-joy nostalgic feeling.. Taking a at nighttime walk in pajamas with that girl you thought was special.. … See MoreAnd those times when you should be studying and then somebody says lets go to Canes by LSU (i swear that Canes taste better than all the others) Oh have you ever experienced a sunset on the bluff??? sigh x10 And it was funny how ppl from freshman year dropped off and you didnt really miss them bc ur circle of friends was HUGE.. I can go on and on but i wont for now bc i know ur gonna respond and take me off on a whole other thought tangent lol

  4. if i could do college again i would. not because it was so great but because i left college unfulfilled. i never felt like i really had my college experience: i had to work, i really didn’t have any friends and i didn’t leave with my crimson and creme jacket. i’ve had to be grown since i was 6 and now that I’m almost 29, i find myself longing for those experiences that i missed. the worse part is that i’m still a student though not in a fun capacity. 😦 **tear**

  5. Well I was there lasy week, on da yard… OUR yard, THE SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY! It was pretty Wednsday, and it was in effect! Not as large as I remember, but it is the spring semester. Burger King has replaced McDonalds in the union, and Popeye’s was having its grand opening in the union (yep, they are moving up). Even with all of the changes, it still felt like home. The pool hall had its usual suspects with music blaring, kids were booed up, T.T. Allain was loaded with ppl. I was home again indeed. I just felt more proud b/c I was showing my baby brother around his new home for the next 4 years (I pray). I too wanted 2 be a student yet again, especially since I was asked if I was in the band hall 2 audition for the Human Jukebox 30 times! My response… Lil dude, I’m 30! Been here done that (not da band, but school) n got the degree to prove it.

  6. Martine, believe me–I don’t think anyone leaves college having done EVERYTHING they wanted to do. If that was the case, how many young girls would have left to marry their college boyfriends and have babies? Not a reality.

    Sonya, I’m so glad to hear that The Yard hasn’t changed totally. We need to chit-chat!

    Gmaine” Don’t even get me started on the stories that SU has to offer!

    @South Loop Freshman year is make or break year. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  7. Let me say, I am really enjoying your post as well as others. I really miss the college days and the one thing, I enjoy most is that my agency is always extending great opportunites to reach out to the teenager to encourage them to attend college and to educate them on partnership between our hospital and schools in which they attend. Of course, I have to include the HBCUs, especially the #1 school,SU, while providing 1st hand experience.

    So about those memories, I remember my 1st day, crying for my mom to take me back with her, that following week, parting at the Catholic center, meeting Master P and his crew, homecomings, party at Octavia hall and the biggest and water fight in the triangle. Meeting new people, Dr. Rackley(was he fine or what), work study with coach Tanner and Robinson, hanging out in the TR building, and those words of encouragement from dear Ms. Lewis ,”Students, you need to increase your vocabulary”, words in which I carry with me today! I can go on and on but I must say that class of 98 -2002, partied like rock stars!

  8. Great Post Tillery!!!! I to miss The Southern University…..I find myself still implementing “Pretty Wednesdays” @ work, but everyone just asks me “why you so dressed up? got and interview?”……they just don’t get it.

    @ Sonya B. – Popeyes….REALLY!!! Get outta town Brown…..LOL! Is Chicken Shack gone too….and who remembers when there was a Taco Bell?!?!? Oh, the good ole days!

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