Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Twists Of Fate...

Mrs. TBF and I met while we were both attending Northwestern University in the early- to mid-80s. We began dating right after I had finished my senior year, and while Mrs. TBF was completing her junior year.

I often think about the many, MANY twists of fate that resulted in us meeting each other.

Northwestern, I'm pretty sure, is the only school to which Mrs. TBF applied. She was a great high school student, got super high scores on her ACT and SAT, was accepted as an early admittance applicant, and knew by the middle of her senior year in high school that she was going to be attending NU. I, on the other hand, applied to several good schools (all in Minnesota...for whatever reason) and was accepted to all of them. I was in the top 6% or 7% of my high school class, got decent but not exceptional scores on my college entrance exams, and was involved in tons of extra-curricular activities (probably what tipped me in).

During the winter of my senior year, I went and toured the schools in Minnesota, and...I ended up not really liking any of them. I felt that the schools were too small, too isolated, and too homogeneous. I came back from Minnesota, and decided to apply to Northwestern. I ended up filling out the application in long-hand because I didn't feel like typing it, and I had to totally "ride" my guidance counselor to get my transcripts together because he thought going to Northwestern wasn't a "good match" for me. My counselor, in my opinion, attempted to sabotage my application by handing me my transcripts at the end of the school day on the last day for me to send in my application (mumbling something about me "making a big mistake"). I put them in the envelope with the rest of my application materials, drove to the post office, and watched the postal employee stamp the postmark on the envelope before dropping the envelope in the outgoing mail bin about fifteen minutes before the post office closed.

I had made the application deadline by the skin of my teeth.

A few weeks later, on a Saturday morning, my parents came into the house holding a thick envelope from Northwestern containing my acceptance letter. I met the future Mrs. TBF a couple of years after receiving that letter. A couple of years after meeting each other, Mrs. TBF asked me out (...topic for a future post!), and a few years after that...we got married.

So what's the point of all this?

Well...here's the point. Earlier this evening, I read in our alumni magazine that applications to Northwestern reached an all-time record this year. A total of 21,947 high school students applied for next fall's freshman class. Approximately 5,400 students were accepted for the class of 2011, which is expected to number about 2,025.

When I applied back in 1980, the number of applicants was something in the neighborhood of 12,000. Amazingly, this year's record for number of applicants was set despite the fact that the total costs for the 2007-08 school year for undergraduates at Northwestern will be around $49,000! That's $200,000 for an undergraduate education, people! Oh, and by the way, the median household income in the United States in 2005: $46,326! Ya better start those college funds!


Had I been applying for admission to the class of 2011 instead of the class of 1984, I am almost certain that I wouldn't have been accepted. Hell! I've always contended that I just barely squeaked-in back in 1980!

What if I hadn't put pressure on my guidance counselor? What if my application had been late? What if I hadn't been accepted to NU? What if I had gone to school in Minnesota instead? What if I had never met the future Mrs. TBF?

I don't even want to think about it!


Global Librarian said...

Minnesota is not homogenous. There is quite a lot of diversity there!

In the town in which I grew up we had Norwegians, Germans and Czechs. Plus both Catholic and Lutheran churches! We even had one African American student in my high school.

See, extremely diverse!

Sara said...

that is a good story. it is weird how these things work, i had a similar experience with graduate school (where I met the husband.) I was sure that I wanted to go to Stanford to work with professor X. I was applying there along with 5 other big shot schools, and I asked my adviser for a suggestion of a 6th school to be safe and he was like, eh, either Arizona or Santa Barbara. So kind of randomly I picked Santa Barbara (with the idea of working for professor Y).
I got my acceptances and was still set on going to Stanford, but then got a letter from professor Z, a new professor who was moving that year to SB and who does exactly what I wrote my application about, and also happened to have The Husband working in his group. So I decided to go there instead, and the rest is history (funny enough professor Y now works at Zurich.)

The Husband has a good friend who worked with professor X for 3 years, we met him and his wife in California, its funny to think that had I gone to Stanford I still might have met the Husband in passing or seen his name on papers/at a conference. I sure am glad it worked out this way though!

Jul said...

I drive myself crazy like that everyone once in a while, thinking about how different my life would be if certain small things had been different.

Scott and I met at college, too... those college admissions boards are quite the all-powerful life-direction-deciders, huh?

Anonymous said...

My entire life has been in the hands of fate, and very hasardous decisions have thrown my entire existence over time after time. Had I gone to uni in Gothenburg rather than Västerås, I would have met different friends, I would never have gone to France, never developped a taste for living abroad... and I wouldn't be living in Finland now, for sure. Fate is fantastic!
(Had I gone to Gothenburg, I could have married rich and had an unproblematic existence in a castle somewhere... What a bore!)

Unknown said...

what a great story..

I'm sure fate drives something. It's incredible how I met P and well the Switzerland adventure was total luck...

But I really loved your story!

Can't wait for more...

Colon Blow said...

Very heavy topic...causality, fate, etc. Better to discuss this while I am smoking something, man...or at least drinking a beer.

Far out!