As shared in prior newsletters, it meant a lot to my father to push the idea of furthering my own education. He had really wanted to see me not have to go through as much struggle as he did and, for that, I am forever grateful. I have tried to do the same with my own children, recognizing that not all of life's pursuits and dreams require formal college education either. But, it certainly doesn't hurt, especially in today's day and age.
My youngest, Vincent, is now a junior in high school and to help encourage his pursuit of further education, I offered to take him on a tour of college campuses. He has desires to become an engineer, so when we talked about what college campuses he wanted to see, he said he wanted to get out of the desert and go someplace “green”. So, we hopped on a plane to begin a week-long trip to tour some college campuses.
We flew into Dallas and took a look at Southern Methodist University (SMU), Baylor University (where my older son attends) and then Texas Christian University (TCU).
We then hopped on another plane and flew to Alabama and went to the University of Alabama.
My son is not that big of a sports fan, but many of the schools we looked at were big football schools. That was my own fun part of the excursion and seeing all of the large football stadiums!
It was in Tuscaloosa that we enjoyed some of the best food throughout our entire trip. We got to our hotel late in the evening and this hotel did not have any dining options, so we asked around to where we could get some delicious local food. It was then that we were recommended to go to Dreamland BBQ, a hole-in-the wall spot with some of the best Southern BBQ that we've ever experienced! Definitely check it out if you're ever in the South (they've got a handful of locations!). LEARN MORE
After we finished up our tour at the University of Alabama, we rented a car and took the 3-hour drive from Tuscaloosa to Auburn to visit Auburn University.
We then continued by car and took the almost 3-hour drive to the University of Georgia.
Another 3-hour drive away, we were at the University of South Carolina. While rain was forecasted many times throughout our trip, this was actually the only day that we had any rain.
Another 2-hour hop, skip and jump across the state, and we landed ourselves at Clemson University. GO TIGERS!!
Last, but certainly not least, our final stop for our summer college tour was a 3.5-hour drive away at the University of Tennessee.
Vincent's Observations from the Tour
One of the things that Vincent commented on about our college tour was that it had been some time since he visited the south. My mom's family is from Mississippi, but Vincent was very young the last time he was in the south to remember anything. He commented on how extra nice and hospitable everyone seems to be. It's really just the difference from city folk, where everyone seems to have somewhere to go and someplace to be. Then you get out into the country and life slows down a bit and people have the time and mannerisms to greet you and take that extra effort to chat with you.
My Own Takeaways
While I certainly enjoyed the time off from the office and work, the 6 ½ days of quality family time was the most gratifying part of the whole trip. We spent a lot of time in the car driving to the different campuses, which gave us plenty of time to talk and enjoy each other's company. I know that as Vincent finishes up his final years in high school and gets ready to go out on his own, our days of quality time like this with our son are limited, so I am grateful for the opportunity for us to make all of these wonderful memories together. After college, who knows where Vincent (and any of our other kids) may end up landing.
When I stop and reflect on the work that we do at Thompson | Von Tungeln, helping families set up estate plans for how to preserve, manage and distribute their heirlooms to their loved ones, I am also reminded that some of the most precious “assets” that we have to give is our own time and the memories we make with those that we love. To summarize this perfectly is this quote I found…
“Our most treasured family heirloom are our sweet family memories.
The past is never dead, it is not even past.”
– William Faulkner,
American Author & Nobel Prize in Literature Recipient (1949)