Rhode to College


On the Thursday the before President’s Day weekend we made a six-state, nine-hour-fifteen-minute-with-frequent-stops-drive to Providence to attended Accepted Students Day at Johnson and Wales University.

I took this picture of a chicken statue outside a convenience store near the Maryland/Delaware border, thinking I’d made a Facebook album of whimsical roadside statuary, but there was no more. It was around this point in the trip that we started seeing scattered patches of snow on the ground. By Connecticut, there was an even layer of it everywhere that hadn’t been plowed. I asked Beth if she was enjoying the snowy landscapes and she said, “Yes!” enthusiastically.

Somewhere in New Jersey we got a text from Noah, informing us the job he’d interviewed for was his if he wants it. It’s a six-month, full-time junior editor position, starting in early May, at a video production company where he did some gig work back in October. He’s waiting to see the contract, which has some key details (like salary) he didn’t get over the phone, but we were all very happy to hear the news, as his job search has been proceeding slowly.

When we crossed the Rhode Island state line we started seeing signs that read, “Don’t Litter Our Clean Rhodes.” I was taken with those. There was also one that warned motorists of “Rhode work.” You have to admire their commitment to the bit.

We arrived at our AirBnB just before 6:30, ordered Chinese, and watched an episode of Gilmore Girls. Our progress through this show has slowed considerably in the six months Noah’s been home because it’s a Beth-Steph-and-North show and we aren’t watching television in that configuration much these days, so it was nice to get in an episode. We are near the end of season five (of seven) and we started it when North was fourteen, so our goal of finishing it before they leave for college isn’t seeming very achievable, especially since they recently accepted a camp counselor job at a Girl Scout camp this summer, which will have them away from home from early June to mid-August. Everything’s coming up employment for the Lovelady-Allen offspring.


Accepted Students Day events didn’t start until 11:30, so the next morning we all took a mid-morning walk to a neighborhood bakery, where we got coffee, hot chocolate, olive bread with cream cheese, and a ginger scone. I immediately started plotting to return to try the lemon cake I half-wished I’d ordered instead of the scone (which is no shade on the scone, which was very good).

The event started at a hotel in downtown Providence. We walked past a group of enthusiastic cheerleaders and picked up information packets and stood in line to get our pictures taken with balloons that read “2028” and signs that read “JWU” and “JWU Mom.” There was only one of those, so Beth and I had to share. (Beth joked she was going to write “a sternly worded email” admonishing the school for the lack of signs for non-binary parents.) Someone in a Wildcat Willy costume was circulating and giving people high fives. North said, “I got an email from him, saying I might see him here.” North then opined he had “too many muscles and too many teeth.”

After the preliminaries, there was a luncheon in the ballroom. While we ate, we listened to the President of the University, the Director of Admissions, and an alumni speak. The administrators sounded like administrators at any school, but the alum was a business major who was active in Republican politics, trying to “modernize the party.” North admitted later this choice “got in my head.” They knew it wasn’t a lefty liberal arts college, but they did wonder why a mainstream school would select someone with strong beliefs on either side of the political divide to represent it. We were also curious what it would mean to modernize the Republican party. Would that mean arresting its slide toward authoritarianism or accelerating it? So, that was distracting.

Appropriately for a university with a famous culinary school, the food was much better than usual for this kind of event (though I don’t believe it was student-made, except for some chocolates on the table). There was salad and rolls, and the vegetarian entrée was risotto with asparagus, artichokes, green beans, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes. Sadly, I had to leave about two-thirds of the meltingly soft rice on the plate (thanks, diabetes), but I ate half a roll and all the chocolate cake with raspberries and whipped cream. So now you know where my priorities lie. Beth advised North, “I like the school that gives you chocolate cake.”

Next, we attended sessions on Residential Life and Dining Services, New Student Orientation, and a Q&A panel of current students. Most of the questions for the students focused on student clubs and campus recreational facilities. There was a table with popcorn and quite a spread of desserts (multiples kinds of cake, brownies, cookies, etc.) at this event, but it was too close to lunch for me to partake. I did tuck a packet of peanut butter protein balls into my coat pocket for later.

Since we had toured the Harborside campus last spring, we toured the downtown campus. This would be where North’s academic classes would be (the culinary ones are at Harborside) and where the library, bookstore, and administrative buildings are.

The student ambassadors were very friendly and attentive. One noticed North’s crutch as we were on our way to one of the sessions and directed us to a more accessible entrance to the auditorium. Another saw we were falling behind our tour group and offered to take us around on our own private tour. It seemed like a good sign for getting accommodations should North need any and personal attention in general.

Oddly, though, we couldn’t get much information about the honors program. North recently got an invitation to apply, but details about it are scarce online and neither the tour guide nor a staff person at the orientation session was able to say much about it. It was very different from Towson, where we attended a whole panel about their honors college last spring. (North got into that program, which I may not have mentioned because Towson is relatively low on their list.)

By this time, it was almost five, and we were all tired. We perused the menu of a nearby pizza place where we got pizza last spring, ordered from the hotel lobby, and returned to our AirBnB. Friday is movie night for us, and North thought we should watch something Noah wouldn’t like. We watched Family Switch and I have to say I think it fit the bill. Speaking of their brother, North observed, “He doesn’t know how to appreciate a good bad movie.” After the movie, I blogged a little and we played Uno and got to bed later than we intended.


Saturday morning Beth went to a nearby park for a walk and North and I visited the bakery again (and I got the lemon cake, which worth a second trip). It was snowing and it was cozy to sit there with our coffee, tea, and pastries, watching the snow and eavesdropping on a college-age straight couple having what North interpreted to be a bad first date at the next table. Then we drove home, through heavy snow in the early part of the drive that petered out in Connecticut. When we got home, we congratulated Noah on his job offer and he presented us with a plate full of chocolate and chocolate-peanut truffles he’d made in our absence. (On Valentine’s Day he’d promised us a surprise on our return.)

It was a nice trip, but it didn’t feel as clarifying as the Accepted Students Days we attended with Noah, the ones that ended up steering him toward Ithaca and away from RIT. JWU was North’s first choice last fall when they were accepted and it’s still high on their list, but they’ve become less sure recently and the program didn’t sway them back to it or rule it out for them.

But they don’t have to decide yet. We’re attending another Accepted Students Day at Saint Mary’s College of Maryland in a couple weeks, and they are still waiting to see if they’ve been accepted to Oberlin and Mount Holyoke, and we can’t forget Aberystwyth, the school in Wales. They were originally told they had to accept or decline their offer there in late January, but they applied for an extension, and they were given until the end of March. So, there are a lot of pieces that haven’t fallen in place yet, but sometime in the next few months we’ll know where their Rhode to college ends.