When I think about what pushed me to attend college at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), I think about a brief conversation I had with Jack Raslowsky, who was my high school soccer coach. I wanted some of his advice on how to decide where to go to college. I had just received an acceptance letter from RPI, but I had already received an acceptance to Stevens Institute of Technology.
Stevens was a college I had been thinking about since freshman year in high school. Stevens was in Hoboken, right next door to where I lived in Jersey City, NJ. Stevens had a computer science program, and I thought it was cool that they required incoming freshmen to purchase a computer.
Both RPI and Stevens were technical schools, but the big difference to me was that one was close to home, and the other wasn't. One was the comfortable nearby choice, and the other was a far away unknown. I don't remember how it came out exactly, but Jack told me that you could learn more about yourself by going away, by leaving home. This advice rang around in my head for probably a few days. It had a certain appeal.
Eventually I asked my parents to take me up to RPI. It was a relatively short trip (three hours) up to Troy, New York. As we climbed up the hill through campus, I remember thinking how unique it looked. It didn't hurt that the weather was perfect. All around me were students, talking at the corner, carrying books, walking to class, lying on the wide lawn outside the student union. I marveled at the gorgeous buildings. I was energized being there, my mind expanding with the possibilities.
By the time we began the long drive home, I felt the sheer excitement of having made a decision. I was going to Rensselaer.
I'm attending my 20th college reunion this month, so I'm posting some college memories.