Well, it’s a done deal. After flying to three different states, touring five schools, revisiting two of the schools, and receiving four acceptance letters, Luke has chosen his college. It was a tough decision for him. He got a sizable merit scholarship from St. Olaf in Northfield, Minnesota, but ultimately decided he didn’t want to be Minnesota-level cold. He received a similar scholarship from the University of Denver, but decided he couldn’t go to college two miles from his high school because that wasn’t enough of a stretch. That left Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, pulling his attention.
Luke chose Reed College for himself his freshman year. He glommed onto it as a good fit for him right away. It’s a self-described college for eggheads, the kind of place kids go because they love to learn and not because they have a lovely campus, amazing dorms, or good football team. In fact, Reed has no sports and no Greek life. There is nothing to get in the way of learning for learning’s sake. It’s that kind of place. Reed is ranked sixth in the country for producing candidates who go on to doctorate degrees. The campus is amazing. Luke loves their adopted motto: “Communism, Atheism, and Free Love.” It is a funny motto, especially considering the school took it on as a tongue-in-cheek nod to the reputation they had earned as being a little bit more liberal than most places. I was a little nervous about the exceedingly rigorous educational practices at Reed, but once we toured it the second time (which was actually my third time as I also toured it with my oldest) I felt better. It’s impressive, and I definitely could see Luke there.
Luke’s brother chose Whitman College. Joe ended up at Whitman because his savvy mother found it for him and thought he should see it. Whitman, while being somewhat isolated in a small town in rural, southeastern Washington, is a great school with a solid reputation. It’s academically challenging but it values work/life balance, so there’s no busywork for the sake of looking impressive. Whitman aims to create well-rounded adults. There are tons of opportunities to get outdoors and to volunteer in the community, and charming downtown Walla Walla with its boutiques, wineries, and restaurants, is just a five-minute walk away. While Joe was a little apprehensive about going to school in such a small town, Whitman has been everything we expected it to be for him…challenging but fun. He is happy there. Having a brother going to Whitman could be a blessing or a curse for Luke. We wondered if that would enter into his decision.
In the end, Luke had two wonderful finalists and a tough decision. Did he want to push his academic limits at Reed, knowing its reputation for cranking out future post-grads? Did he want to attend the same college his brother chose? When he weighed his life goals against the pluses and minuses of each school, he felt he had a clear choice. He chose:
The two boys will both be at the same college next year, which works because it just does. This is the most Joe and Luke thing since Joe and Luke became brothers. The motto of Whitman College, which I loved so much for Joe, also is apt for Luke. Per ardua surgo roughly translates to “Through adversity, I rise,” which certainly fits both these kids who started their school careers struggling with their learning disabilities and yet worked hard and thus landed at a highly respected liberal arts college anyway.
Here’s hoping their next adventures together won’t involve Lego gunships broken into hundreds of pieces or empty deals made to persuade the other to do something they don’t want to do. If war breaks out between the two of them this time around, they won’t have their mother to appeal to for mediation.