Oh! You never heard of TCNJ? Well now you know it stands for the overly wordy, The College of New Jersey. More importantly, this institution of higher learning has a tremendous scholastic reputation. So much so that many experts consider an education there to be the equivalent of the Ivy League...without the lofty tuition. So with all that burgeoning intelligence running around, why does TCNJ have such an identity crisis?
It seems strange to me that most people even bright New Jerseyians need the TCNJ initials clarified. You'd think that some clever student, alumni or an advertising company would find a catchier name, in order to create a universally distinct brand that's synonymous with brilliance. My point is, where would Yale be if they were TYUC, (The Yale University of Connecticut). Even a less intellectually motivated organization like Dunkin' Donuts realizes the importance of standing out.
TCNJ's original name, "The Normal School" was far from glamorous.. That boring name flew under the radar for 103 years until the powers that be concluded that a more dynamic name was needed. But they didn't take much of a chance by renaming it Trenton State. So by comparison, the movers and shakers who decided on the next change should get a medal for only taking 38 years, to realize that Trenton is a dying city with a negative reputation, (so bad that when people heard Trenton State, many assumed it was a prison). So it's shocking to me that on the third try in 1996, the best name change they could come up with was...TCNJ.
I make no attempt to even pretend that I am smart but it seems clear to me that in addition to their name, TCNJ needs to tighten some other things up too. For one, the written driving directions they provide
In desperation, I called the TCNJ main information number. When I hung up from the representative, I was confident that she was sending me the best way. Well...let's just say the giant sign that she advertised as, "You can't miss it," NEVER appeared. Maybe the sign was being repaired that day? Or maybe the sun was in my eyes and maybe my hair got in my eyes. Or better yet, maybe aliens from Planet Xenon zapped me with a temporarily distracting Kryptonite laser...but either way, I was left to my own devices. Then despite the lack of TCNJ signage and the spiderweb of different highways that conveniently all end in 95...I used guesswork, guile and luck to find my own way to Nirvana (TCNJ) through heavy rush hour traffic, in a timely manner.
The prospective TCNJ student's first glimpse of the campus is extremely positive. Upon entering the visitor parking lot, in big letters you see, BLISS HALL. You can't help but feel happy, welcome and spiritually at one with the prospect of your child enjoying their college experience there. This joy fest ends immediately because the second building is LOSER HALL.
|WE SOON DISCOVERED THAT TCNJ WAS GENEROUSLY ENDOWED BY PAUL LOSER. AND APPARENTLY, HE PRONOUNCED HIS NAME TO RHYME WITH HOOSIER. NEVERTHELESS, YOU ONLY GET ONE CHANCE TO MAKE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION.|
Our long car ride to TCNJ was punctuated with the hot slap in the face that only 100 degree temperatures can provide. While we wandered around trying to stay in the shade while hunting down the registration station, I was reminded of one of Johnny Carson's comedy bits. It started with him saying something like: It was sure hot in L. A. today...Then because the audience was well-fluffed by his sidekick Ed McMahon before the show, they knew to scream out; How hot was it? Then Johnny's punchline would be something to the effect of: It was so hot, that in Burbank while filming a commercial, the Tidy Bowl Man took a sauna in the septic tank.
|TY-D-BOL IS A TOILET CLEANSER AND DISINFECTANT THAT WAS DEVELOPED IN 1958. IT'S STILL ON THE MARKET TODAY. THEIR FAMOUS TV COMMERCIAL INCLUDED A NAUTICAL SPOKESMAN BOATING IN A TOILET'S WATER TANK.|
We got our bearings with the help of some TCNJ student ambassadors. They were also the one's who cheerfully explained the irony and correct pronunciation of Loser.
|THERE ARE SO MANY PERKY, FRIENDLY AND KNOWLEDGEABLE AMBASSADORS THAT IT SEEMED LIKE ANY TIME WE NEEDED HELP, ONE OF THEM WAS ALWAYS NEARBY...MAYBE THEY SHOULD BE IN CHARGE OF GIVING THE DRIVING DIRECTIONS.|
Most of the events took place indoors. The biggest gathering was the welcoming ceremony. Then the incoming freshmen were sent off to do the actual registering, set up class schedules and iron-out individual details. The parents remained sequestered in the auditorium and were addressed and further orientated by administration reps. After questions and answers, we were sent back into the outdoor furnace for other activities.
Outside, the school set-up hospitality tents with ambassadors, pamphlets and cold water. Plus, scattered throughout the 289 acre campus, Adirondack chairs were always a welcome sight along the pretty tree-lined passages.
We were re-united with kids for lunch, at Eickhoff Hall. I guess it was inevitable, but I believe that at this moment all parents spontaneously became invisible to their former rug rats. At least Eickhoff (I-COUGH), the main dining facility among seven other eateries on campus was pleasant. We weren't exactly lavished at Eickhoff but at least I didn't come away calling it, "I-CHOKE."
At 3:PM, we all gathered one last time at Wolf Hall, (one of the two dormitory towers). First we were invited to a ice cream social in the basement bistro. It was great to be introduced to the parents of Andrew's new friends.
Then upstairs, we waited in line, in the broiling sun, to get a glimpse at the sleeping quarters, in order to get ideas on how to maximize the comfort of Andrew's daily living routine. We are counting on him to rise above the name Wolf Hall and not lead a feral lifestyle.
We capped off our exciting day, at the Brower Student Union Building. In the TCNJ bookstore, we bought tee-shirts, decals, a required book and "Proud TCNJ Parent," coffee mugs, (one of which I am using now). On our way out we even bumped into Roscoe, the school mascot.
|AS BUBBA THE BULLDOG, I WAS A BUBBLIER MASCOT THAN ROSCOE THE LION. OF COURSE IT WAS 35 DEGREES WHEN I SWEAT UP A STORM IN THE PHOTO, (AT THE TOP OF THIS COLUMN). SO I CAN IMAGINE THE HOT TIME HE HAD ON OUR 100 DEGREE DAY.|
Yes the school is only ninety minutes away and yes it's both close enough for frequent visits as well as far enough away for him to grow as an individual. But once he gets going, it may as well be Oz. And my little vonce might have less and less need to come back to Kansas, (home). It'll be a tough adjustment but in the long run, it'll be healthy for all of us.
The bigger picture is, Andrew was once tiger, then a grizzly bear and now a lion...oh my. And there's nothing cowardly about him as he launches his new collegiate life, in one month. And while he's blazing new trails for himself, wouldn't it be great if he was the one to establish TCNJ's new and improved identity.