The Meat and Potatoes of Life: College orientation is an alien mind trick

| July 18, 2014 | 1 Comment


Lisa Smith Molinari
Contributing Writer
My son was recently abducted by aliens.

These strange creatures from a far off land lured him to their institution, garbed him in their apparel and claimed him as their own.

To make matters worse, our son went with them willingly.

Even worse than that, my husband and I have agreed, through a complex combination of loans, financial aid, the GI Bill and possibly human sacrifice, to pay these aliens $64,000 a year to keep him.

No, we have not fallen prey to a Vulcan mind warp. We merely took our son to his college orientation.

Photo courtesy Lisa Smith Molinari The author's starry-eyed son tours the college campus he'll soon be inhabiting.

Photo courtesy Lisa Smith Molinari
The author’s starry-eyed son tours the college campus he’ll soon be inhabiting.

When we arrived, they separated us from our son immediately, whisking him off with the other starry-eyed newcomers to “start a memorable and important time in their academic and professional journeys.” We knew they were really intending to erase our son’s memory — 18 years of our hard work, down the drain.

In order to placate the parents, they pumped us full of coffee, plied us with shiny new pens and herded us around to “informative sessions,” such as “Letting Go” and “Money Matters,” in a suspiciously spaceship-shaped building they referred to as “EMPAC,” the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center.

While the parents were locked in the EMPAC mothership with the institution’s leaders, our children were off playing “ice breaker” games with legions of bubbly upperclassmen dressed in matching college T-shirts and well-worn sneakers. The incoming freshmen were encouraged to become “independent,” i.e., to make all decisions without involving their parents other than to send them the bills.

The institution’s leaders tried to allay our fears, characterizing the terrifying experience of handing over our flesh and blood to complete strangers as a “normal rite of passage.” They told us not to be concerned, because our children would have all sorts of “advisers” to guide them. There would be student orientation advisers, resident advisers, academic advisers, graduate assistants, learning assistants and peer tutors. But all we were thinking was, “Yea, but who’s going to tell him to wear his retainer?”

They said our kids would be well-nourished with a variety of meal plans ranging from the “unlimited access” plan, otherwise known as the “fast-track-to-morbid-obesity” plan, to the “custom plan,” commonly referred to as the “go-broke-on-take-out-after-you-expend-your-dining-hall-allotment” plan.

And, we were informed we had no right to access our children’s grades, despite the fact we had to take second mortgages on our homes to pay their tuition.
In order to squeeze every last dollar from our increasingly shallow pockets, we were funneled through the campus bookstore, where we bought our son a lanyard with a hook large enough to hold his student ID, his military ID, his room key, his bike lock key, his asthma inhaler, a bottle of hand sanitizer, a stick of lip balm, a thumb drive and, most importantly, a framed 8-by-10 photograph of me, his mother.

In six short weeks, we will surrender our son to this alien academic institution for good, and hope that he will heed the words of one well-known extraterrestrial and always remember to “phone home.”
(Molinari shares her humor on her website:

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Category: Community, Education

Comments (1)

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  1. alienmindtrick says:

    😉 Great article. 🙂

    FYI, I’ve had my online persona so long that some of my closest friends call me Alien – and did so LONG before James Franco appropriated it in ‘Spring Breakers’ (I’m a big Franco fan, nonetheless).

    It was interesting, and fun, to run across your use of the disunited term.

    Good luck to your son, and happy writing!

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