Senior Year Interrupted: Countdown to college
It’s not too long before I leave for school, and dad has plenty of wisdom to impart
I’m about two weeks from moving away to college, so I’ve been getting nonstop, last-minute dad advice — usually when we’re driving around in the car. It’s good to hear that sort of stuff, whether it’s just common sense or something that will help me through my first year of college.
Dad: “Put your dishes in the dishwasher. You’re an only child, and I was not. I’ll tell you this — living with people you don’t know can be tricky. Be a good roommate and pick up after yourself. Also, those mini-fridges can get really stinky, really quickly. Do kids still use mini-fridges in college or is there an app for that? I don’t know. I once left a plate of spaghetti out for, like, three days, and it got a better grade than I did in Western Civ. Just don’t be a bad roommate.”
Katie: I don’t really have to worry about being a bad roommate, since every student has been assigned a single for the coming school year. I’ll probably keep my fridge fixings in order to keep the smell away, but I can’t make any promises about putting dishes in my room away. After all, it won’t really affect anyone other than myself, so I think I’ll put my plate away when the time is really right. Sometimes it’s just not the right time to clean a plate. You have to wait it out. It could even take weeks.
Dad: “Put off skipping class for as long as possible. Trust me on this one. When I was in college, I’d put it off for as long as I could, because once I slept-in and skipped for the first time, it became really easy to do it again. And I did. Before I tell you this, let me preface it by saying ‘don’t do this.’ I used to wake up in time to watch the second half of “The Price is Right” every day. The old one, with Bob Barker. That’ll turn your 4.0 into a 0.0 real quickly. Be more like mom in this respect — studious and responsible.”
Katie: I love to sleep in, but I unfortunately have to wake up in time for my 8 a.m. class every Friday. Luckily, I think that’s one of my online classes, so all I have to do is roll over and turn my computer on. Even that’s a lot of work though, so who knows what will happen. I did a pretty good job at keeping my grades up during high school so I don’t think it will be difficult for me to worry too much about that. This time it’s a bigger thing since there’s money and scholarships on the line, so that’s something that will hopefully keep me motivated and get me out of bed every morning. I’m no Mom Burke when it comes to having especially large and powerful grades but I feel confident I can handle it.
Dad: “Dress nice. I know you love your Nintendo and Clash T-shirts, but you may have occasion to wear something a little more formal. When I was getting ready to head off to college my freshman year, my mother took me shopping for a sports jacket, shirt, tie and pants. I swore I’d never wear them, but you know what? She was right, and I needed them. Maybe only once or twice, but I would’ve felt dumb in my Flock of Seagulls gear.”
Katie: You never really had to worry about clomping around in heels or how your naturally wide stance and slouch looks weird in dresses. However, I will still power through and put one on when I must. In high school it’s always been useful to have a black dress and boots to throw on when I had a recital or a gig. I don’t see much of that changing in college. However, a good bonus is having a slight increase in height whenever I have to put on any kind of heels.
Dad: “Don’t swim in the Merrimack River. Yeah, I know it doesn’t go anywhere near your campus, but let’s just follow this common sense rule. Consider it a metaphor for ‘don’t do dumb things, please.’”
Katie: But what if the water looks inviting and delicious?
Dad: Get involved. “I know things are going to be weird this semester, with virus testing and quarantines and remote learning, but do the best you can to meet other people. Me? I had a metal show on the college radio station. I’m not sure if those things even exist anymore, but there will be plenty of other options. You’ll have a chance to join clubs and learn new things. Do it. Let’s just avoid playing games like ‘how many people can we stuff in this locker?’ this year. Cool?”
Katie: As soon as I get to college, I’m getting tested for COVID-19 and then must quarantine alone in my room for three days, which I have no problem at all with. But I think it’ll be tough to try to start to get to know people at the beginning. I think I’ll mainly be making social connections through ensembles and classes since being able to hang out with people is much more limited due to the safety precautions. Hopefully I’ll be able to participate in some kind of virtual activities that are put on to help get people connected at first. I’m good at virtual. I’ve had plenty of practice these past five months.
Dad: “Treat yourself with respect. You deserve it. You’re smart, hysterically funny, beautiful and wicked talented.”
Katie: Of course, I am. I mean, thank you.
Katie Burke is a recent graduate of Timberlane Regional High School and plans to study music education at the University of Southern Maine in the fall. Or go crazy. To read the first four parts of Katie’s journal related to being a senior in high school during COVID-19, click here.