As the date gets closer to packing everything up and taking your son or daughter to college, there are feelings of both excitement and concern for all those making the journey. As parents who have survived and learned from this experience with our three children, we have some advice for you as you step into this next chapter of your lives.
Although there is much uncertainty as you will arrive at Gonzaga, there are a few things that are for sure. First, when you arrive you’ll think “why did we bring all this stuff?” Secondly, you’ll make at least three or four visits to the surrounding stores to buy more “stuff” to make things just right for your new college student. Finally, all that extra “stuff” you purchase will make you feel a whole lot better, knowing you’ve helped provide a great start to his or her new beginning at Gonzaga.
Those certainties are on the lighter side, but we realize that there are many legitimate concerns as your family steps onto the Gonzaga campus. Mom and/or Dad are worried about their child’s adjustment to being away from home – having a college roommate, sharing a room, eating right, making new friends, and the safety of the campus and surrounding area. Mom and Dad will also worry about not being in the same house to sense how their son or daughter is doing on a daily basis. An arriving student is worried about all of these things listed above, plus the academic adjustment that college demands, but is equally (if not more) excited to start college life.
The natural anxieties you and your daughter or son feel, can be alleviated by attending Gonzaga’s excellent Freshmen and Parent Orientations. Gonzaga does a wonderful job of talking about these concerns and welcoming parents and students to campus. To take it a step further though, become actively involved addressing your concerns by walking and getting to know the campus; eating in the food service; finding out what clubs and intramural activities are available; ask about security on campus and spend time to get to know the new roommate and his or her family. Students – meet and talk to your teachers face to face in the first weeks of class and become involved in the many activities offered in the first few months of school.
Parents – be aware of that there will be some underlying emotions during this move. Your children will look to you for the confidence that you know they will do great in all aspects of the college atmosphere. College and academic life can be demanding and sometimes lonely, and it will take time to adjust. As parents, they need to know you love them and will be there for them, whether it be via a texts, e-mails, phone calls and/or visits, whenever they need some motherly care or fatherly advice. Also, make a point to sign up now and come back for Fall Family Weekend October 21-23.
The goodbyes will be tough, so plan on staying as long as you can. Letting go is hard, but be assured that all will be fine. Usually, everyone is more emotional than they let on, so be ready for a few tears at the goodbye scene and on the ride home. However, if the whole family is realizing that this is a new chapter in their lives, and it makes great sense to embrace this new challenge, this will be the start of a wonderful new experience.
Congratulations on choosing Gonzaga and good luck on your journey.
Colleen and Jim O’Brien
Gonzaga Parents ’09