Today, I was in Walmart, along with dozens of parents and their teenagers coming to school. School is back in session and we have a lot of colleges in the Lynchburg area: Central Virginia Community College, Liberty University, Lynchburg College, Miller-Motte College, National College, Randolph College, and Sweet Briar College.
So many hopeful and excited young adults embarking on a great adventure. I watched with nostalgia as parents picked up rugs, dorm fridges, pillows, hangers and more. I listened as one Dad recommended to his daughter that she try Marie Callender meals because they were ‘the bomb.’ I couldn’t help but smile.
The influx of students means a lot for Lynchburg. More traffic, longer lines in stores and longer waits at restaurants. It also means more money for our economy. These young folks and their parents helped keep us fairly stable during the last recession. They need jobs, but they also provide a need for jobs that are filled by the local folks They bring new ideas, excitement, cultural events, and laughter.
I realize that the same dynamics were in play when more than 4,000 students descended on the College of William and Mary back in the 1980s. We were a boon and an annoyance. At the time, I was only aware of being excited about learning, making new friends and becoming more independent. I had no clue that the local folks cared one way or another about our invasion.
I remember moving into my Freshman room – my parents and our pull along U-Haul in attendance. Negotiating with a person I barely knew about how our furniture would be placed in our 10′ x 10′ room. My mom and dad being proud, excited and sad. So many new experiences and friendships began that day – including with my roommate who I am still friends with today.