The Wheat Fields Were Amber Waves of Grain

From Steven Tarr for First College Visit, a series of first college visit stories by business professionals sponsored by SmartCollegeVisit.

Growing up in suburban Seattle, I wanted to get out into the world on my own, yet within driving distance of home. Washington State University was 285 miles away and seemed to fit the bill. Over a long weekend, a high school senior classmate and I drove over to Pullman to check it out. An older friend had offered his floor for us to sleep on.

Steven Tarr Good thing. We drove over quite unprepared for any road trip, let alone having money to pay for a place to stay. It was snowing as we crossed the Cascade Mountains, then blustery as we drove across the wide-open Central Basin of Washington state.

As we approached Pullman, the flat desolation turned to rolling hills. We were in wheat country and the Dry Pea and Lentil Capital of the World. The nearby mountains of Northern Idaho reminded us of how far we were from home. It felt empty.

Then we met our host, Craig, outside of his dorm. Happily and enthusiastically, he welcomed us to WSU. It was cold and windy, and I kept telling myself that meeting more people would warm up my attitude.

It worked. We went to a few classes, ate in the dining hall, and played card games. We didn't mind sleeping on the floor because of all the fun we were having. Everyone was friendly and encouraging.

As we drove back to Seattle, I'd pretty much made up my mind that WSU was my kind of place. I accepted their admission offer that week and arrived as an excited freshman that August. By then, of course, the sun was shining and the wheat fields were amber waves of grain, some already harvested.

The first week was like summer camp and over the next four years, the bond was created. Now, over 30 years later, I am both volunteering on university boards and teaching as an adjunct professor.


Steven C. Tarr is an Adjunct Professor of Business at Washington State University and President of Columbia-Capstone LLC and Steve Tarr Consulting LLC.  He is also the author of Yes You! Yes Now! Leadership, 50 short leadership stories for college students and recent graduates. He is on Twitter at @YesYouYesNow.


College visits, visits to campus, planning college visitsFirst College Visit on Handshake 2.0, a series of first college visit stories by business professionals, is sponsored by SmartCollegeVisit, a college visit portal with tools and resources for planning campus visit travelcollege visit advice from parents to parents, not-to-miss college campus sites, and more. You're invited to subscribe to SmartCollegeVisit updates, to follow SmartCollegeVisit on Twitter, and to become a fan of SmartCollegeVisit on Facebook.

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  1. Steven, your first college visit story demonstrates many of the elements important to a successful visit: spending time with college students on their campus, eating in the dining hall, and getting a true sense of the life and people on the campus of WSU. Thank you for showing how something as simple as a college visit makes a difference in one’s life and the future they build.

  2. Thank you, Steven, for a wonderful contribution to our First College Visit series.

  3. Thanks for sharing my story, going off to college is a big event. Stories help us all understand a bit better. For your relatives, friends, or even for yourself, you’ll enjoy 50 entertaining short stories on leadership:

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