They Try Harder

When I was a senior in high school Texas Tech University offered me a full ride scholarship. My mom could not imagine sending me so far away from home, and insisted that she would not allow me to accept the offer. Since I was still only seventeen years old I had to defer to her decision. Besides I knew nothing about the place, and did not feel drawn to attending school there.

Eventually I would quickly ride past the campus now and again on my way to some place else. For some reason I never really took enough time to learn more about the school, and so I remained mostly impressed. It was only when I took a group of students for an extended visit there that I began to see the university’s possibilities. My pupils and I were wined and dined by the administration, and I was quite impressed by the programs and financial assistance that they were eager to offer my kids. 

Still, it was a campus that was a long way from home. It had taken us almost thirteen hours to travel there in a drafty bus in the middle of winter. I’ve rarely been so uncomfortable in my life and somehow the thought of making that long journey back and forth for four years still felt a bit unsavory. My hesitation was challenged by an offer from the school to fly any of my students to and from the campus if they genuinely wanted to attend, and were willing to work hard to keep their grades in order. I was impressed by the school’s willingness to do whatever it took to recruit the best of my students. It reminded me of their earnest offers to me back when I too was deciding where to earn my college degree. it seems that Texas Tech genuinely wants to make it possible for any deserving student to attend, no matter what obstacles seem to stand in the way.

This past spring my grandson, Ben, decided to accept an invitation to attend Texas Tech. I was excited for him, but still a bit worried about the distance. I needed to feel better about how far from home he would be, so when my husband, Mike, and I were planning a vacation to the western reaches of Texas, we put Lubbock, the home of the university, on our route. It was indeed a long drive but a doable one nonetheless. What really sold me was a more intense examination of the campus. 

Texas Tech University has a beautiful design and an attention to detail that gives the entire place a welcoming feel. Ben will be majoring in Communications and the administrators wisely placed him in a dormitory directly across the street from the Communications building. He will be in a cohort of students with interests similar to his, and already counselors have reached out to him and to his family to insure that he feels welcome from the first day he arrives. 

I got a very positive feeling as we drove and walked around the sprawling complex. It is like a little city in and of itself. Best of all it is an incredibly friendly place. Everyone seems to want to talk and be helpful. The whole place reminds me of those old Avis rental car commercials that assured customers that the company would always try harder. Since Texas Tech has often been in the shadows of the two biggest state schools, The University of Texas and Texas A&M I think they realize that they have to go an extra mile to attract students. The long distance from so many parts of Texas only adds to their need to offer something a bit more than students might get elsewhere. I get the idea that that something is personalization.

While Texas Tech University is quite impressive, the city of Lubbock itself is rather underwhelming. It does not have the charm of Abilene or the things to do found in Waco. It feels as though Lubbock would be just another small town were it not for Texas Tech. it actually reminds me of some of the small suburban towns that encircle the metropolis of Houston. It boasts many of the same stores and a similar vibe. For some that might actually be an attraction. I know that many today enjoy a slower pace of living and Lubbock certainly has that, at least until the students arrive each fall.

i recall a time many years ago when we were passing through Lubbock on our way to Durango, Colorado. We stopped early one morning in a small cafe for some breakfast. At a table near us were three men all decked out in western wear, complete with fine leather boots and cowboy hats perched on their chairs. They were gentlemanly enough to know the importance of removing their hats inside, so I found myself straining to hear their conversation. They certainly had the classic west Texas drawl but their words would have been at home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was apparent that they were discussing some fine philosophical point and that they were indeed professors enjoying a morning seminar of sorts before going to teach their classes. These were no ordinary ranchers or farm boys!

Lubbock is an interesting city. it is almost improbable given where it stands, but nonetheless a center of learning whose reputation only grows as time goes by. If you want to know about climate, or alternative energy sources, or agribusiness, or engineering or medicine, you might want to attend Texas Tech University. It is a place filled with possibilities because in itself it seems as though it should have been impossible. 

I feel good about sending my grandson to Lubbock. I even feel a bit of “what If” when I think of how I might have gone there. it’s obviously a place where good things are happening every single day. I’m glad we took the time to visit because I was able to see that there is a world of potential in being at a school where everyone seems to work just a bit harder to help young men and women achieve their dreams. 


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