Leaving work yesterday, I glanced out of the double doors and saw an overcast sky. Would I make it to the car before the deluge? Of all the days to be without an umbrella! Just before pushing the door open, I spotted a young man standing quietly to my right. Dressed from head to toe in blue and white, his umbrella blended right in with his jacket, jeans, and hat.
“Looks like somebody came prepared,” I said.
Seemingly surprised that I said something to him, he said, “Oh yes Ma’am. I went back inside the house to get this. It was raining when I left home.”
“Wish I’d been as smart,” I replied as I made a run for my car.
After a couple of steps, I heard, “Oh Ma’am, can I ask you a question?”
“Sure. What is it?”
“Are you a student or a teacher or something here?” he asked.
“Yes, a teacher. How can I help you?”
“I just want to know how to get started. I want to take some classes, and I know I need to take math, but I never was any good at it.”
“Me either,” I said. “But we have great math teachers here, so there’s no need to stress out about that.”
“Well, let me ask you this. Somebody said if I took classes here, I’d have to go to Sumter sooner or later. Is that true?”
“Maybe,” I said. “But let’s don’t put the cart before the horse.”
“Huh? Horse?” he asked, puzzled at what must have seemed like a strange answer to such a young man.
“I mean, you need to talk to an admissions counselor first.”
“What will he do? Is there one here?”
“On this campus, it’s a she, and yes, she’s here.”
“How can I talk to her? What do I need to do?” he asked, sincerely interested and maybe a little overwhelmed.
“Just go back inside and go to the front desk. There might be a line there, but it always moves pretty fast. When you get to the front of the line, just tell the person there that you want to talk to somebody about taking classes, and she’ll take it from there.”
“That’s really all I need to say?” he asked.
“To begin with, yes. She’ll ask you some other questions, and before you know it, you’ll have an appointment to meet with the counselor. At some point, you’ll have to take an admissions test, and you might want to meet with a financial aid person too,” I continued.
He looked like he might run away instead of going back inside the building so I said, “Look, just take it a step at a time. Everybody here is ready to help you. I mean, that’s why they’re here!”
He smiled and said thank you. I looked in my bookbag and retrieved a copy of Crossing the Bridge: Succeeding in a Community College and Beyond and gave it to him.
“Here,” I said. “Anything you need to know about getting started is in this book. Take it; it’s a gift.”
“For real?” he asked.
“For real. Just promise me that you’ll read it…and that you’ll go back inside and make an appointment with a counselor right now.”
The rain started in earnest, and we shook hands and quickly parted company. The last I saw of him was a blue and white blur moving towards the front door. I hope he followed through with making arrangements to speak with an admissions counselor. And I hope he reads the book. Doing so will tell him much of what he needs to know to get started across the bridge.