Learning Life’s Lessons in College



My daughter Brittany has learned an amazing amount of things at college so far. And most were outside the classroom. I think school in general is designed to be this way. I remember once in about 6th grade Brittany had to do a science project and decided she would test whether plants grew better using Miracle-Gro or not. So she bought two identical plants and over a period of eight weeks she fed one Miracle-Gro and the other just water.


At the end of eight weeks, both were dead.


In writing up the report about the project she answered the teacher’s final question: “What did you learn from this?”


She wrote, “I learned that Lowes will take back dead plants within a year if you have your receipt.”


In just the past few weeks I’ve seen how she has made huge strides in organizational skills, accountability and leadership. Brittany was in charge of planning a “Something of Value” risk management weekend for all the sororities. She set up all the International representatives coming in; where they would stay, what they would eat, did all the publicity and led a session during the weekend; all while managing to work her shifts at the hotel and hopefully getting her homework done. She learned how much she can accomplish by planning ahead.


That Sunday night was the last meeting of her year as president of the Panhellenic Council. All the girls in all the sororities are required to come to one meeting per semester or they get fined $30.00. They have 16 meetings per semester to choose from. Brittany sent a message out to all the houses that because of fire code, the room only held 45 people, and if they were planning on coming they should get there early. When the room was full they would lock the doors and start on time.


The room did fill up and they did lock the doors and start the meeting. Unfortunately the doors were glass and every few minutes another cluster of girls would try to open the door and shout in frustration when they realized they were locked out. Brittany said she felt her neck break out in hives, but went on with the meeting, because, “people have to learn to plan ahead and follow the rules.” She learned that leaders aren’t always popular all the time.


Last Friday night she called me as she got off work at 11:00 pm. She wanted to tell me about a wedding party that arrived at 7:30 for their reception and there was no food there. The caterers had apparently set up the party at the wrong hotel across town. By the time that was all straightened out and the party was going along on its own, she said 2 buses from Cherokee arrived to check in, closely followed by a church bus. For the next several hours she was kept busy checking people in and delivering pillows and cribs to various rooms. Now she was on her way to the store to buy baking supplies to make cookies for her sorority’s formal the next night. She was planning on baking them still that night because she had to be back at work Saturday morning at 7:00 am and she would only have time to get herself ready for the dance when she got home. She’s learned to take things in stride, keep her sense of humor and keep plugging away.


I love watching the evolution, but sometimes it makes me feel a little slow. I’m still trying to learn not to immediately say yes when she calls and asks, “Will you do me a favor?”


Because it always costs me money.


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