Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Davidson Basketball in the news
I know I've gotten this link from multiple alums already today, but perhaps the rest of y'all are generally above reading the USA Today (can't say I blame you after the pathetic excuse for writing displayed in this article). Nice to see the boys getting some more great press--they've been getting a lot over the offseason, and I like to think it's all well-deserved.
Oh, and if you want to download all or parts of the Davidson Men's Basketball Schedule using Click2Remember, click here:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"I paid $160,000 for WHAT?!?!?!"

There's a lot of controversy lately about the US News' annual College Rankings--are they trustworthy? Can colleges really be boiled down to a series of categories and evaluated and weighed to determine overall quality? Isn't the most important factor in finding a college making sure it's a good fit for that individual, regardless of what anyone else can say?
Well, yes, sorta, and yes. And I'll tackle those issues in reverse order.

The most important factor is definitely fit. And that can't necessarily be determined even by endless visits, let alone college rankings. Things change. It's college. The whole point is not to be spat out the same person you went in. For some, they change early and they need to transfer to somewhere that fits them better. For others, it's a longer process of development, of shaping and being shaped by all things they are exposed to at their college home. I was lucky enough to be part of the latter.
Davidson was definitely, without a doubt, the perfect place for me. That doesn't mean I liked it at all times, by any stretch. But I know I do best when I'm pushed really really hard--harder than I want to be pushed at times. I learn best when I'm given a challenge I've never seen before and very little context or instruction. Davidson gave me the best of both of those things. The arguably most important thing I learned from college was that no matter how smart I thought I was or how good I thought I was at something, there was always someone better; but the only way to get better is to emulate those people. Sure, it was frustrating--grade deflation, trying to earn respect from a walk-on spot on the golf team, balancing sports, social life and school work--but ultimately I think it taught me more (though not necessarily in the classroom--I know I learned far more from people and about life in general than anything that can be taught) than anywhere else could have.
What you take away from college can't be written in a textbook. Nor a rankings list, for that matter. But those ranking systems are there for the people who care about such things. 99.9% of the time, if you go to State School X-City Branch Y, you inherently care less about where some people rate your school--it has what you want, be it a certain major, or a sports team, or a certain social lifestyle. I mean, from how many people do you hear, "Man, I hated college. It was the most miserable time of my life." And for the one person you run into in a lifetime who might say that, you have to respond "Why on earth did you fork over a fortune to go, then? And why didn't you transfer?"
For those people who do care about rankings, I don't think there's any disputing that the rankings are relatively accurate. Obviously they aren't perfect determinations of who should go where--for that we'd all have to be judged on some life scale a whole lot deeper than the SAT--but they do good research and generally report facts. As I mentioned earlier, it's up to the student and his or her family to determine whether or not to care about those facts. People don't always bother to follow the rankings (my roommate is much smarter than me on paper, yet goes to the 67th ranked university vs my 9th ranked college). The reviewers also don't bother to even try to rank, say, liberal arts schools on the same scale as large universities--they're so inherently different that it's rare for people to look at both.
All in all, college comes down to who you are and what you care about. To some, that's arbitrary rankings of what reviewers deem worthwhile statistics about schools. To others, it's any number of things. That doesn't mean the rankings are any more right or wrong than football rankings. It's merely a measure of certain priorities that many people share. In football, it's winning against other highly ranked teams. In colleges, it's high test scores, solid retention, and alumni giving. In both, there are other factors that enter into preference. In football, it's your home team or alma mater. In colleges, it's social life, location, cost, programs, and so on. Despite sharing it with so many others, college is the most personal experience one can go through--and no exterior rankings can affect that.

Monday, October 1, 2007

you can never go home again

as many of you know, 10 of my closest college friends (including "the deuce"--my 3 senior year roommates and i) and i spent last weekend in the charlotte/davidson area, both to see each other (my main objective) and to go to oktoberfest (aka beer orgy). reflecting back on it, very little excitement happened, there are no good (crazy) stories to tell (and yes, mom and dad, i'm old enough to tell them if there were), and yet it was the best thing that's happened to me in a very long time.
and the worst. no, i'm not talking about the extra $300 i had to spend to get there, nor the 1.5 hr airport delay because the pilot needed more sleep, nor the fact that i spent 2 nights on a floor with a couch pillow under my head; rather, i speak of the realization that it gave my bretherin and i on our return to our own cities: the realization that our time together will be relegated to these occasional weekends (at best) together, an alottment time that will likely dwindle as the years progress. that, to each of us, is painful.
i say that with a degree of certainty because by the time my afternoon bathroom break at work rolled around, i had already talked to both spencer and jared about it.
my parents, relatives, and friends who know the deuce and have seen us together have all told me that i must do everything in my power to stay in touch with these boys. i must admit, my first reaction was "duh." after the four of us spent a year sleeping within 50 feet of each other (on the rare occasion that we'd go to bed if someone else was still up and hanging out), i couldn't fathom a world without these boys. even the tragic passing of our good friend jay chitty on new years' eve couldn't force my mind to function in a world apart from my best roommates and best friends.
graduation happened (producing what i believe the longest-held smile of my lifetime--from the moment i finished my final exam to the minute i boarded a plane, nobody could burn that smile off my face with acid), then i went abroad (scags and jared went on cruisies--not horrifically different from any other vacation), then i saw jared in chicago and milwaukee for a few weeks at least once a week, and two days after i last saw him, i saw spencer for a night and a morning in birmingham. then a week or two later spencer visited me (bringing the remainder of my belongings) in dallas. so what was so different about this trip? did a solid month away from all deuce members really make the difference to us all?
no, i don't think that was it. though i suppose it probably contributed. instead, i think that when we were in davidson, we acted exactly like we did when we were in school. and it was awesome. well worth every penny of the plane ticket. but then when we recovered from our oktoberfest hangovers (which aren't that bad--when the fest ends at 7pm, you generally sleep enough to be okay), there was nobody around to play with. everyone just kinda disappeared. right when we had everything as it had always been and we were supremely happy again, it was all taken away.
as i spoke with jared and spencer earlier, we all agreed on one thing: being apart from each other sucks. sure, we're all pretty happy with our lives (they both have awesome significant others from davidson, and spencer is near many others of our friends), but there's a huge void when any one of us is missing (yes, spencer makes the same sized void as scags).
that being said, we're pretty smart dudes and will learn to adapt, i'm sure. we are already pretty outstanding (by every accord i know) at keeping in touch--there are husbands who don't talk to their wives for longer than we go without a conversation. i'd die without having jared's e-mail, spencer's google chat, and scags' aim addresses all available at work (no it doesn't distract from our productivity; we don't use it that often--it's just a lifeline). i think any of us would pick up the phone for one another at any hour in any situation. i send out cds monthly so we all live to a similar soundtrack (as we did at school), and we keep a private blog to have another mode of contact. i'll even admit that i'm glad i played fantasy football with them--i don't even care who wins or loses, i just don't want to miss any opportunity to talk (shit) with my boys.
but despite all the talk, nothing can replace being together. i hope against hope that there comes a time in our lives when we can all take a week vacation together (at least every other year). whether we be in our home states of wisconsin, west virginia, new york, and alabama, or the furthest reaches of the world, i sincerely dream that we can find a way to get together as often as humanly possible. i want to do better than all those roommates who think they're close because they post on each others' facebook walls once a month, or drunk dial each other every few weeks. i know we can, because i know we all want to.
we may never be home in davidson or ryburn002 again, but i'll be damned if i ever let anything come between us.
oh, and if you want one more example of how close we've become? i told jared this morning that i had randomly picked up a copy of jack kerouac's on the road in the airport last night and was on page 100. his response? "i'm on page 175."