87: My Mom Followed Me to College

87: My Mom Followed Me to College

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Campus Chronicles

My Mom Followed Me to College

Living involves tearing up one rough draft after another.

~Author Unknown

Let me begin with the answer to your first probable question: why in the world would your mother follow you to college?

I have a high-functioning form of autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome. To make it short and simple, I can do the work required of a college student, but I’m really not ready for the independence part of it. However, I wanted to be able to use my gift for writing to make a living someday, and thus began our college search.

We visited Taylor University in Fort Wayne, Indiana in the spring of my junior year of high school and spoke with Dr. Dennis Hensley, the professor who developed their Professional Writing program. It was this visit that convinced me and my parents that our prayers had been answered. It was a small Christian college with a strong writing program, one that would teach me not only how to write, but how to make a living at it. There was only one problem: the school was 1,000 miles away.

To most families, the how-far-away issue would be a minor one, but for my family it meant some major life changes and sacrifices. In order for me to go to this school, my mom would need to be there to support me while my dad financially supported us from Texas, where he serves as a police lieutenant. In order for us to still have family time, my mom would need to limit her work to school weeks only, which would allow for us to be home during holidays and summers. In order to cut costs so that this could happen, we would have to sell our house and move into something very inexpensive.

This was much easier said than done, but after everything was “in order,” we left my dad, my two brothers and their wives, and my two nephews in Texas and moved into a second-story apartment just down the street from the school. My mom got a job as a part-time clerk in our college’s bookstore. I began classes. All seemed well and good, until October 13th — a day that will be etched in my mind forever.

It began as any other Monday. Classes at nine. Chapel at ten. Then came the announcement of a special meeting at noon. This meeting would announce the closing of our school on May 31st of the next year. Hold on, I thought. This can’t be happening! Colleges don’t just close up like that, do they?! Didn’t they know the sacrifices our family had made to get me here? The sacrifices the rest of the students’ families had made to get them here? What about them? What about us?

There were lots of questions but not a lot of answers. There was much crying and disbelief, but not much consoling. Time stood still that day at TUFW. And the next. And the next. It was announced that the main campus in Upland, Indiana, would not be closing its doors. Some departments would be moving, but they had not decided which ones. My mom wrote a letter, pleading with them to keep the Professional Writing program and Dr. Hensley. Concerned parents and students called — some irate, some just wanting answers. All were concerned about the future of our school, formerly Fort Wayne Bible College, then Summit Christian College, and finally Taylor University Fort Wayne — a school that taught its students the importance of ministering to the community. This loss would affect not only our school, but also the entirety of the Fort Wayne area.

My story has a happy ending. Dr. Hensley and his Professional Writing program, along with nearly all of the students in it, will continue, uninterrupted, at the main campus next fall. Although the move creates a few new bumps in our road — uncertainty about living arrangements and a job for my mom — my dream of becoming a professional writer is still alive. And while I’m sad about the loss of TUFW, I can truly say that I am happy to have had the opportunity to attend, if only for one year.

~Joel Copling

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