Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Coin Flip

Sometimes in life probably everyone is faced with a decision that will impact the future course of their "life's path" and the decision is not clear cut on which path to follow as you may be comfortable with the current situation and wonder whether to leave that situation and take a leap of faith into the uncertain future of  change and a new direction. I was faced with such a choice in 1973 while at the time attending Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio.

I only applied to two schools of "higher education" after graduating Simsbury High School in Simsbury, Connecticut in 1972. I learned of Marietta College primarily from my high school coach of the Simsbury Rowing Club in 1971 C. Barton (Bart) Gulong  as I was one of about 30 or so high school kids who helped found the Simsbury Rowing Club that year. The Simsbury Rowing Club later became a recognized Simsbury High School sport that is still active to this day with many awards and trophies won by the Simsbury Crew team over the years. Marietta College (named after Marie Antoinette who had the same birthday as me, November 2nd but different birth year) is a liberal arts college with about 2500 students more or less located in Southeast Ohio near West Virginia. The town of Marietta was founded by a Revolutionary War General George Putnam.

I also applied and was accepted out of high school at the University of Connecticut (UCONN) to the main campus in Storrs, Connecticut. UCONN had about 19,000 students more or less attending the main campus with also branches in Hartford, Waterbury,Stamford and maybe another branch or two that I don't remember.

I decided to go to Marietta an started my college education there in the Fall of 1972. Marietta College at the time was about $3,000 per semester whereas UCONN was about $1500 per semester. I was again accepted at UCONN but at the Hartford branch after one semester at Marietta but I didn't want to go to the "branch". At Marietta I had fun and enjoyed the people I met there and was being "groomed" to be the "Concert chairman" by the current concert chairman for future years. For some reason that was one of my goals and interests. Myself and friend "Jim" were involved in setting up a film series for the students to watch (one film per week) at I think an admission price of 50 cents per movie.

I was accepted again at UCONN to the main Storrs campus after 3 semesters at Marietta for the 1974 Winter semester. This is where I had a decision to make as to "should I stay or should I go?" I didn't decide right away and told my friends that after the "Winter Break" either I would  be still at Marietta or transferring to UCONN and to check my room for the answer.

I had two tuition bills to choose from: Marietta at $3,000 approximately an UCONN at approximately $1500. My parents contributed a certain amount of the cost and I also had money from savings and a Summer job. I did have a small student loan from a local bank to afford the Marietta tuition. To help me decide which school to continue my education I decided to flip a Kennedy half dollar 10  times and decided that a "heads" result would mean I should stay at Marietta and a "tails" would mean I should transfer to UCONN. Guess what the result of flipping the coin was? (TEN HEADS IN A ROW!!) I thought to myself, what are the odds of that? Each coin flip of course should have a 50/50 result and each coin flip result should be independent of the previous and subsequent coin flips.

The reason for the coin flip in my case anyway was to assess my reaction to the result of the coin flip such as "Oh Good! or Hmm, I wish the coin had landed the other way".

I ended up after the coin flip walking the over two miles from my home in Simsbury to downtown Simsbury to the post office. I had with me two letters, one for Marietta and one for UCONN both with signed checks in them. When it came time to "Drop the letter with my "final decision" I ended up mailing the UCONN tuition check.

It was a tough choice giving up the situation at Marietta and it was a tearful trip to Ohio with my parents and brothers and sisters as we drove to Ohio to move out of my dorm room. In the end my "rationalization" was that I could try UCONN and see if I liked it and if I really hate it I could probably return to Marietta a semester later having saved $1500 dollars plus lower travel expenses for that semester. During this time Jimmy Carter was president and there were "gas lines" which probably also had some weight in my decision.

As it turned out I became too involved at UCONN and eventually became concert chairman there with the Student Union Board of Governors. I also over time came to the conclusion that "everybody graduates or transfers at some point into the "real world" after attending college. I do sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had stayed at Marietta and graduated from there where I would be today and how my "life path" would have changed.

Sooo, Flip a coin and see what you think of the result when faced with a decision on whether to "make a change".