I can remember the conversation quite clearly. I had just finished my first quarter of college and was sitting in my parent’s living room. My siblings might deny this reality, but as I was the fifth child to go off to college; my parent’s had this topic of conversation memorized. The point was clear, if my grades did not improve, I was moving home. They were not paying for me to party and have fun for four years. My siblings had warned me of my parent’s tactics. It was a great chess match with Rooks, Knights, and Pawns scattered among the furniture. I reminded Mom and Dad that learning at college also took place outside the classroom, besides I had made the Dean’s list (my brothers failed me by not clarifying which Dean to mention). College was supposed to be hard and a learning curve was to be expected. My parents held fast to their position. Better grades or moving home. Employing a trick from my sister, I offered to make a comparison of my grades to their respective first university report cards. It was a push; I crushed my Dad but my Mother, who apparently lived in the library, had one of those 4 point thingy going. We were at a stalemate.
We are getting a number of phone calls from parents this year. Calls that deal with missed tests, missing assignments, and as we start second semester, low grades. To be honest, these calls can be positive and negative. In this trophy generation, (not keeping score for little kids? Please…) students have a hard time adjusting to the rigors of university academics. These are the marks you witness on report cards. Most students can have an even harder time harder time adjusting to the reality of residence halls, roommates, scheduling, and not having a curfew. These life lessons are not graded and yet are just as important in college to learn. Some educators place learning outside the classroom at over 50%. We ask parents to trust in the simple fact that their son or daughter actually is bright, has talent and was invited to attend Gonzaga in the first place. Gonzaga’s curriculum is designed to stretch and challenge. It is expected that grades might be lower than what was earned in secondary school.
While not defending students all students, I would encourage parents to take a look at the big picture. They placed their child in the position to be successful, get into a great school, and mature into adulthood. They also I might add, survived the high school years. Allow your child to continue to grow and trust in the work you have done and the work we at Gonzaga are doing. Besides, I pulled the ultimate bluff in that chess match over twenty years ago. Really Mom and Dad, you want me to move home? I went back to school. Checkmate.
C. Hightower, S.J.