Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

September 17, 2013

John Cannon: Not bragging, just telling it like it is: 9/18/13

John Cannon
The Independent

ASHLAND — My wife, granddaughter and I did something last weekend my children and I did little of when we were high school seniors: We toured two schools where my granddaughter, a senior honors student at Paul G. Blazer High School, is considering going to college next fall. I suspect we will be doing more of the same in the weeks ahead.

 We left after school on Friday and drove to Nashville, and we were at Belmont University early Saturday morning for a daylong program the school has for what it hopes to be future students. What I knew about Belmont before Saturday was next to nothing and the little information I had on the school was 35 years old.

 Prior to moving to Ashland 35 years ago my wife and I lived in Gallatin, Tenn., which is near Nashville, and my wife graduated from George Peabody College before it became part of Vanderbilt University. We both knew Belmont was a small Christian school (Baptist, I think) in Nashville, but there are a whole lot of colleges in that city. Thus, all I knew about Belmont, David Lipscomb, Scarritt, etc., is they were small colleges in Nashville associated with some Christian denomination.

When we lived in Middle Tennessee, Belmont College was a small school of around 2,000 students on a small campus with only a few buildings. That was what I was expecting to find Saturday. Little did I know that in recent years, Belmont, now a full-fledged university with graduate programs and a law school, is one of the fastest-growing private colleges in the country. It now has more than 6,800 students and its sports teams play in the Ohio Valley Conference with Morehead and Eastern Kentucky. That was news to me.

 The treatment we received at Belmont was excellent. The program was well-organized and my granddaughter got to meet and talk with many of the faculty members in her programs of interest. My granddaughter wants to major in political science and hopes to become an attorney specializing in international law. It just so happens Belmont has a program in international law.

 On Saturday night we drove to Bowling Green and spent the night with my sister and brother-in-law and went to church with them on Sunday morning. After lunch, we met with a senior honors student at Western Kentucky University who took us on a tour of the campus. My first job after graduate school at Ohio University was at The Daily News in Bowling Green so I thought I knew Western Kentucky fairly well, but knowing WKU in 1972 was about like knowing Belmont in 1978. The university has grown by leaps and bounds and now boasts nearly 23,000 students.

 The young lady who gave us the tour was a perfect fit for my granddaughter. Like Aryssa, she was a Governor’s Scholar. She was selected as a high school senior into WKU’s honor program, and based upon Aryssa’s college test scores and grade-point average, she was certain she would be selected into the scholars program. Aryssa has never received anything but A’s. Several students are ahead of her in the senior class at Blazer only because they have taken a few more weighted classed than she has. She received a perfect score of 35 on the language portion of the ACT and an overall score of 33. She’s taking the test again on Saturday with hopes of getting a perfect score. She sets her goals high.

 As we drove home Sunday night, Aryssa said she liked both schools, but preferred Belmont. However, Western has offered her a full scholarship, and Aryssa is smart enough to know that unless some other school can match that, it’s too good of an offer to refuse. Like most private colleges, the biggest drawback to Belmont is it is expensive, very expensive.

 Aryssa also is interested in Yale, Cornell, Bellarmine and a handful of other schools. She already has visited Bellarmine, which is in Louisville, and has been accepted into that school. She’s not really sure she wants to attend Yale; she just wants to be accepted by the prestigious Ivy League school.

 When I was a high school senior, I attended visited two colleges: Wilmington (Ohio) College, where my mother attended, and Morehead State. Mom had encouraged all of her kids to go to Wilmington, and I was her last hope of actually having one of her children attend her alma mater. But, alas, it was not to be. I chose Morehead.

 My oldest son chose Eastern Kentucky mainly because his girlfriend, who was older, was already a student there. My daughter and wife toured Alice Lloyd College, but my daughter’s college education was delayed a few years because of the unplanned birth of Aryssa. We were just happy to get my youngest son out of high school. He was not ready for college at that time.

 Thus, no college recruiters ever came knocking at my door or my children’s door when we were seniors. On the other hand, Aryssa regularly receives letters from some of the most prestigious schools in the country. What a nice change.

 Did I tell you Aryssa makes me one proud Peepaw? If it sounds like I am bragging, I will simply quote Dizzy Dean.

“If it’s factual, it ain’t bragging.”

JOHN CANNON can be reached at jcannon@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2649.