Saturday, May 08, 2010

A Decision

Yesterday, Bantam19, Blondechick17 and I all traveled the relatively short distance to Trinity College in Deerfield, also home of the better-known Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  With 750 students in the undergrad program, it's half the size of Wheaton or Taylor, and with a founding date of 1961 (give or take--it's a convoluted history), it's a hundred years or so behind them in established reputation.  It's also a smaller campus, with buildings closer together, which seemed to us, on a chilly, rainy day, to be a good thing for a campus situated this far north!

On the way there, I talked to Bantam19 about why we were visiting this campus.  He had told me earlier that he didn't want to go, because he was settled on Gateway Tech.  I explained the difference between an associates' degree or a licensing certificate and a liberal arts degree--in terms of jobs available after graduation, and what he would study at college.  I talked about living in a dorm and going to class with Christian guys who could be friends for him--which he needs and wants--and having Christian teachers to mentor him, encourage him to grow spiritually and help him discover what he's really good at.  We talked about him becoming independent and how living in a dorm would be a way to transition to living on his own.  As I talked, I discovered more and more reasons why this option seemed like the ideal next step for him, especially given his special needs.  Why hadn't we seriously pursued this option sooner?

Partly it was because he hadn't been asking about it.  We thought his plan of working and taking some classes sounded affordable and practical, and we could see how successful he was at taking college level classes and maybe gain more insight into what be a good career path for him.  Also, we doubted that he'd get a decent score on the ACT, and we guessed that he'd need a year of community college classes to prove that he could do college level work.  But when we got his halfway decent ACT score, I talked to a friend who used to work in Trinity's admissions office, and she assured me that most likely, he could get accepted, though perhaps on probation.  And she said it wasn't too late to think about it for this fall!  It seemed like confirmation that we should definitely consider the Christian college option for him, Trinity in particular.

As we visited, other things just seemed to click and had the feel of God-ordained appointments and signs.  For example, we weren't sure what he would major in, but we knew he would want to take all the classes for a brand-new minor that had just been added, in Digital Design.  (Don't YOU want to take these classes?)  We met with the lead design teacher, and the more we heard, the more we knew this would be a good fit for B19, and he would learn good marketable skills to graduate with.  And we heard from multiple sources that the minor is going to become a major in a year or so!

We also LOVED the chapel.  They had student-led worship for a good 20 minutes or so, and it was loud--5 guitars, one drummer and a vocalist--which somehow made it so easy to forget yourself and just praise God.  The students were really into it, and I sensed such a spirit of worship in the room--it touched me deeply.  Later, in an admissions meeting, B19 was asked if he too, sang like his sister, and I joked that I hadn't heard him sing in years.  He looked me right in the eye and said, "I sang in chapel today, Mom.  I just...felt like it." 

We also loved the chaplain--a solid, straightforward man who preached a great message from Proverbs, about the way of wisdom and the way of folly.  He told one moving story about a friend of his; it was honest and genuine, not just a handy illustration.  I loved it that he wore jeans and an oxford shirt, not a suit.  Both B19 and Blondechick liked him too, and it seemed like another one of those signs when we got to meet him in person shortly afterward, in the salad bar line!

The suitless chaplain and the worship band in jeans and flannel shirts struck me as a picture of how Trinity is different from Wheaton or Taylor.  Blondechick said, "It's more laid-back."  From all that I understand, it's not as academically challenging and doesn't draw the best and the brightest the way the other two do, but the students we met--and the admissions department did a great job of making sure we had different students escorting us everywhere--were no slackers.  They were friendly, genuine and involved.   They seemed bright but, as Blondechick said, laid-back.  They seemed like successful people who weren't success-driven.

That perfectly describes Blondechick, who wants good grades and works hard to get them, when she can, but doesn't rearrange her life for homework or knock herself out to get top grades.  She felt very drawn to this more laid-back atmosphere, and the clincher for her was our meeting with the soccer coach.  Everyone we met spoke so highly of him, and when we met with him, he spent as much time talking about how he encourages his girls to grow spiritually as he did talking about soccer.  He knows her school and its good reputation academically, and the reputation of its soccer program, which we weren't aware of...and it sounds like the odds are high that she could not only make the team but get a soccer scholarship as well.  It's early to say, but right now, she's very interested in playing girls' soccer competitively in college.  She's having a marvelous time this season, getting lots of play time and loving it more and more--to my surprise!  I thought, with all the hours of drill and running, plus the bruises and body aches, that the appeal would wear off pretty quickly this season, but instead her passion for the game has increased, and she's enjoying the camaraderie with the other girls so much.  She enjoyed the communications class she sat in on, and she could really see herself on that worship team.

And Dad could come over and visit them so easily, since he works in Deerfield!  They'd be close enough to come home and see their younger siblings in theater productions and other important occasions, and we could easily visit them at school as well.  The more we thought about it, the more appealing it seems to have them so close to home.  They'd be right on a train line to visit Chicago too, and it sounds like there are lots of internship possibilities in the city too.

Further confirmations were when B19 commented, "It would be nice to be in a place where I don't have to hide my faith."  One could argue that he didn't need to hide his faith at the public school, but his desire there is just to stay under the radar and not bring negative attention to himself.  And one of the most significant things was when his autism came up with the design teacher, and that teacher said the words I prayed someone besides his parents would say to him, "Your autism is a gift from God; it's part of how He created you.  You need to discover what He put it there for."

So now we need to help B19 get everything together for his application and turn it in ASAP.  Will you please pray with us that if this option is the Lord's will for B19, that he will be accepted?  We should know before his graduation in early June--I can't believe it! He also needs to find a summer job...and maybe, hopefully, get his driver's license...if you are so led to pray for those needs as well.  It feels like this is all happening so fast, but it also feels so right.  I feel relieved and thankful for God's guidance and such a busy season of life for us that it seems we could so easily have missed it.  Thank you, Lord, for the nudges!


Heather said...

What an exciting time in the lives of your two oldest! I will be keeping them in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

wow. gives me goosebumps. we'll be praying and waiting to hear all the good news.

we do hope to see you all again this summer (end of july, early august again).

sarah, for us 6 hoskins

Jennifer Merck said...

I love hearing your reviews, Jeanne. You've helped me begin our college search, 5y early!

Jessica said...

How exciting! I hope it all works out.

quirkyskittle said...

I went to a small college for undergrad (about Wheaton's size, but that's small compared to the 12,000 where I went to grad school!) and loved it. Now I teach at a community college part-time, and I have to say, while I like and really believe in community colleges, and while I haven't had the pleasure of meeting your son, I bet Trinity would turn out to be great for him. The faculty sound like they're there because they love to teach - small private schools, as I'm sure you can attest, are great for that. And there's nothing like being on your own, yet surrounded by support - a feeling commuting from home can't offer in quite the same way. I'll be praying. :)

At A Hen's Pace said...

Heather, thanks for your prayers!

Sarah, send me the dates ASAP...we are starting to make plans to be gone around then! But don't want to miss you...we had such a great time last time!

Jen, glad my thoughts are helpful. It will be interesting to see what direction your kids go!

Jessica, thanks!

Quirkyskittle, I really appreciate your perspective and encouragement--more confirmation! Thank you!

MomCO3 said...

how thrilling to see how God is planting and watering seeds left and right in and for your children... I look forward to hearing how it all unfolds!