“An Even Bigger Pond”


By the time I had finished high school, I had a pretty good sense of myself, my school and my city. That would all undergo an upheaval when I moved 3000 miles away for college, to a place I knew no one, to a town I had visited only once. What could have possessed me, you might ask? My sophomore year in high school we were to take a large book about colleges, review it, and pick one we would like to attend. I saw that the hardest college for a girl to be admitted was Radcliffe, so with the snarky attitude of a student rebelling at an assignment, I wrote about it. When asked to explain why, I replied “it is impossible to get into.”

Meanwhile, I made plans to attend Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, the school my parents, my aunts and uncles and my cousins had all attended. I would be admitted as a “legacy” with no problem.  I had visited the place, liked it, had relatives near by, and was set to go there in the fall of 1964. But, as a continuing spite action against that stupid assignment, I also applied to Radcliffe. What was the harm?

Yikes. Radcliffe practiced “geographic distribution” in their admissions, a fact I didn’t know. They always took one girl from Oregon. Almost no girls applied from there. I was accepted. Now I had to go. No one would accept my turning down the acceptance.

With a large trunk packed, I boarded the train to Boston, a five day journey from Oregon. I arrived, tired, sweaty and dirty, to a “welcome sherry” get together with the college president in my dormitory. And, for those who don’t know, Radcliffe existed as dormitories only. I was about to start my studies at Harvard University and all my classes were to begin in two days.

30 thoughts on ““An Even Bigger Pond”

  1. I don’t know anything about Radcliffe, but it sounds like one of the ‘better’ universities to me. Travelling 3,000 miles to go to college was bold. If I had done that in Europe, I would have been studying in Siberia! Or New York, in the other direction.) 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.


      1. That’s a lovely image – to have, as you look back, such compassion for your young self. So many of us (well me, at least) look back harshly on our younger selves. I shall take a leaf from your book and approach the past differently.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s