Dickinson Reflection

A young woman who is a student at Dickinson College, where I went to school, e-mailed me a few weeks ago asking to meet me for an interview. I agreed and today after I had a very poor showing at bridge I met her at Fosters. Nell, is something called a Presidential Fellow and she was assigned to interview graduates who live in North Carolina.

She was polite, on time and a good conversationalist. She asked me about my time at Dickinson. What did I think was my favorite part about the school? It was an easy question , I said, my friends. I am glad she did not ask me what classes I took sophomore year because I don’t believe I could tell you what anyone of them were, but if you wanted to know the name of every girl in my pledge class I could give you that almost without taking a breath.

I loved my time at Dickinson, but as I told her, I was more interested in clubs and activities than in academics. It worked out well for me as not one potential employer ever asked me for my transcript. They were much more interested in leadership positions I had held.

My best skillI developed in college was public speaking. I got there with a lot of experience from boarding school, but I had bigger audiences in college. To this day talking is my favorite activity. Even at bridge today a woman I was playing against who goes to my church told me she likes when I speak at church.

As Nell continued the interview she was asking me things about how I thought the college could improve. I offered two areas I thought it was lacking, real life job experience for students and for Dickinson to play a bigger role in improving the town of Carlisle.

Central Pennsylvania is not exactly a hot bed of excitement and one small liberal arts college is not likely to fix what years of poor governing has done, but Carlisle is a nice enough town that has potential, but could use a big idea or two.

Liberal arts is a tough sell in these STEM filled times. Not that Dickinson doesn’t offer great science and math that produces a good share of great doctors and researchers, or that liberal studies are not a wonderful foundation for any future, but place it in a sleepy small town and it gets to be a harder sell.

One thing that I learned from Nell is that Dickinson has just two fraternities and many sororities which is a little bit of a flip from my years there. I didn’t ask her what they do for fun. The litigious world we live in has caused all schools to crack down on what we used to do in college. Maybe we need to teach bridge and Mah Jongg at orientation so at least kids can play a game they could play the rest of their lives. If only I had learned to play bridge in college…on second thought I probably would not have graduated.

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