This is an exciting time of year for high school seniors. A story in my newspaper reminded me that the soon-to-be-graduates are making the important decision of where to attend college. Their responses were generally due at the beginning of May.
That reminded me of a story I like to tell about how I picked my college and a funny journalism lesson I ended up learning.
I will never forget the senior visit days. Anyone who has gone to college will remember these well. They’re all pretty much the same.
The day tends to start out by herding all the prospective students and their parents into the student center, having an introductory program there and then having them go out on tours with backwards-walking guides.
Syracuse followed the script. We signed in, ate bagels and were ushered into an auditorium.
There, we were welcomed by some high-ranking official and then shown a film titled something like, “The Storied History of Syracuse University.”
At Maryland, we signed in, ate bagels and were ushered into a ballroom in the Stamp Student Union. We waited for the program to start.
We waited a bit more.
There they were, in uniform and everything, and marching up the center aisle, trumpets blaring.
That was what put me over the edge. This is my kind of school, I thought.
OK, OK, there were many more reasons why I picked Maryland over Syracuse. But the pep band stunt made me realize that Maryland was a place that didn’t take itself too seriously, a place where they knew how to have some fun.
And the pep band stunt taught me a journalism lesson, too: The importance of having a punchy lede.