Orange tote bags and the future

Orange tote bags and the future

Dec 8
Stephanie Henry, ACES Media Specialist
During these last few years of working in ACES, I have passed countless groups of prospective students and their parents on campus sidewalks taking part in an official college visit. A tour guide, in a harrowing feat of backwards tightrope walking, leads the high schoolers and their families from building to building, announcing destinations such as, “to the right is the undergrad library,” or “just ahead are the Morrow Plots!”

How do I know they’re prospective students here on a college visit? It’s the bright orange tote bags slung over their shoulders. If you spend your days on campus as a student, or as a member of the faculty or staff of U of I, you’ve seen the orange tote bags, filled with info pamphlets and other goodies.

Recently, on a rainy Monday afternoon, I walked next to my son, a junior in high school, along the familiar campus sidewalks but my eyes were fixed on the orange tote bag slung over his shoulder. It was our turn for our very first college visit. I pass these campus tour groups all the time.  And I’ve often wondered what the parents are thinking about as they make their way from the south quad to the library to the main quad.  Are they excited that their child’s next chapter in life is about to begin? Feeling the pangs of sadness at the thought of their child moving away? Overwhelmed by how big the campus can seem at first?

It was so weird to me to be in the center of something—this group of parents and high school students, and all our orange tote bags moving across campus—that I have seen from a distance, but was now experiencing myself.  I couldn’t believe this day had come.

I watched my son take in all the information that was presented to us that day, information about what the admissions office looks for in applicants, what the demands of certain programs are, how to find opportunities to get involved with clubs or groups on campus, and how U of I prepares students well for their careers.  I watched his face and I knew that he was thinking about his future.  He was picturing himself in the scenes he was seeing all around him.

Parents, if this is your stage of life, too, we will get through this. We made it through kindergarten, junior high, learning to drive, right? We’ve got this too.

Tour U of I