October 7, 2010
Ken and Cassandra Aldridge are hoping their children will consider attending The College of Wooster because of the meaningful experience they enjoyed during their undergraduate years.
WOOSTER, Ohio — At 13, Andrew Aldridge is still a little young to be thinking about college, but when the time comes, he knows he’ll get plenty of advice from his parents, Ken and Cassandra. In fact, he already has.
The eldest of three children, Andrew has accompanied his father and mother on numerous visits to their alma mater, and he has heard all about the ways in which The College of Wooster can be transformative. It’s not clear how much of that message has sunk in, but it is almost certain that he will hear it again and again during the next five years.
“We’re not going to force our children to go to Wooster, but we do want them to apply,” says Cassandra (Weaver), who graduated in 1990 with Ken (a.k.a. Snap). “We want them to have the same rich college experience that we did; we want them to thrive in the rich liberal arts environment that Wooster provides.”
Ironically, Cassandra did not heed the same advice given by her parents when she engaged in the college-search process some 25 years ago. “My parents went to Lawrence, a small liberal arts college in Wisconsin, and they encouraged me to consider that type of school, but I wanted a big school with big sports and everything else that was big, so I went to Ohio State,” says Cassandra, a graduate of Shaker Heights High School near Cleveland. “When I got there, it was overwhelming — classes with 300 or more students and professors who didn't know who I was. It was then that I realized what my parents were saying.”
After one year, Cassandra decided to transfer to Wooster, where “Snap” was a student (the two had started dating late in their senior year of high school, even though they went to different schools). “I noticed the sense of community when I would visit him in Wooster during my first year at Ohio State,” she says. “I also became aware of the value of student-faculty interaction. By transferring, I could finish my degree in four years, something I could not do at Ohio State. Suddenly, my college experience became smaller and more accessible.”
Wooster was not Snap’s first choice either. He was planning to go to Bowling Green, when he happened upon Wooster at a college fair in Cleveland. “I struck up a conversation with the counselor from Wooster, and I decided to visit,” he says. “When I got there, it felt right, so I decided to enroll”
Cassandra majored in sociology with a minor in Black Studies. Snap majored in chemistry. Both describe their academic experience as challenging and rewarding, particularly I.S. (Wooster’s nationally renowned Independent Study program in which students work one-on-one with a faculty mentor on a research project that results in a thesis, performance, or exhibition of artwork, depending on the major). “I really became aware of what it takes to think critically about a question or a problem,” says Cassandra. “You have to be able to support and defend your ideas.
Snap reflected on the long-term benefits of I.S. “You learn quickly the importance of responsibility and managing your time,” he says. “When I went back to graduate school (at the University of Pennsylvania), I had to do a project that was actually a shorter version of what I did in I.S. Many of my classmates were stressing out because of the scope of the project. For me, it was no big deal. I was prepared because of I.S.”
Snap and Cassandra were also active outside of the classroom. “We were encouraged to push our boundaries, so I decided to do some things I had not done previously,” says Snap, who had a radio show on WCWS, and played club volleyball. He was also on the Student Orientation Committee, an RA (Resident Assistant) for two years, and president of BSA (Black Students Association). Cassandra was an RA, too, as well as a member of the Black Students Association and president of the Black Women’s Organization (now known as Women of Images).
Today, the family (which also includes Donovan, 10, and Mariah (7 ½ ), lives in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, where Snap is the middle school principal at Germantown Friends School and Cassandra is a middle school social studies teacher at William Penn Charter School. Despite the distance, Wooster is never too far from their mind or their heart. “Whenever we go back home (to Cleveland), we try to coordinate a visit to Wooster,” says Snap. “We still have many strong friendships 20 years after we graduated, and I think that says a lot about the people who come here.
Given the choice, I would do it all over again, in a minute,” he adds. “I really enjoyed my time here. I’m proud of the College and what it stands for. When I run into current students or young alums, I am impressed to hear about some of the things they are doing.”
Cassandra also cherishes her time at Wooster. “It was a transformative experience for me,” she says. “The learning, the growth, the opportunities — it was everything my parents said it would be. Wooster is such a special place, and I appreciate it more the older I get. I hope our children can enjoy the same rich experience.”
1189 Beall Avenue, Wooster, Ohio 44691. (330) 263-2000
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