Greetings Incoming ZAG Families,
Now that you officially have a ZAG, congratulations!
Having two daughters attend Gonzaga, first graduated 2016 and the 2nd, a senior in the nursing program, class of 2018, I will have spent the past 7 years being part of the Gonzaga community. It all started after the first GEL (Gonzaga Experience Live) weekend experience. I still don’t know what happens during this ritual, but it’s some rite of passage for the prospective high school graduate. What I do know is that once my two attended GEL their minds were made up practically on the spot! I have come to a belief that this is how Gonzaga University operates; they cater to your student throughout his or her time at GU.
Your freshman has made one of his or her best decisions by accepting admission to Gonzaga University (GU). These freshmen are now part of an experience and a community that will change not only them, but parents as well for a long time. Your freshmen are about to experience the most amazing educational ride of their next 4 years of life! You can rest assured your freshman is in very good hands. Gonzaga has graduated many students over the years and has honed education to a science. GU is a university that is based on community and provides the best support for students. This is the foundation that has helped Gonzaga University continue to grow. This university even helps you, as parents, instilling that good old lesson of “tough love” principles you learned the first day you left your freshman off for kindergarten. The only difference is your kid won’t chase you to your car on first drop off day but in turn, will help you get out of town as fast as possible!
So during this first year, there are some things I think you should know. This is your freshman’s time to flourish, extend, break away, learn, fail, fall and get back up, meet new people from all over the world. This is their time they are making their own choices without having to ask parental approval; try not to be a distant helicopter shooting from far away, let them take a break and get back to you when they are ready. It’s tough, but they will call….usually after 3 months looking for a ticket home for thanksgiving (prepare and plan). This community of ZAGS will not let your student wander off — if your freshman thinks he or she will not be noticed, guess again. My experience has been just the opposite, there are so many opportunities and activities to keep them busy and active developing right along with their new found peers.
Encourage your student to take advantage of the pre-orientation weekend opportunities Gonzaga offers. While this forces them out of the house a week earlier than planned, it eases them into their new surrounding with introductions to other freshmen that will most likely become some of their best friends during the next 4 years. It also helps the parents adjust, however so slightly; to the fact their kid is gone. It helps both parents and freshman ease into a more comfortable transition of separation anxiety. Don’t worry, it’s only a week. Another plus is that in most cases, this may allow for early dorm move in and allows you beat the rush.
Speaking of dorms, don’t move the house to a dorm room. You can always ship items. Take the essentials, but don’t go overboard. Coordinate with the future roommate on who will provide the all necessary essentials like a microwave, coffee maker, and refrigerator. It will be easier on you and your student especially on move out day. Yes, I said move out day. Believe me, it will come fast. The first two years of residence hall living usually involves two move in and two move out days. Use local rental storage over a summer or two if you don’t want to pack everything back home for 3 months. The moves get easier each year. Housing the 3rd and 4th year for my two ZAGS has been rental homes in the local neighborhoods. This is the theme during the upper class years, homes shared by 5 or 6 of their closest friends in the same neighborhoods as other ZAGS sharing homes.
During move in weekend make sure to catch the parent orientation. The information shared during this event is well worth the attendance. Also, make sure to keep a copy of the yearly calendar and use it. The calendar has dates you should know and can stay one step ahead of the schedule.
IMPORTANT!!! Attend “Welcome Mass” and make sure your freshman is attending with you on Sunday morning. This is open to all and I highly recommend it as it is truly a rite of passage for you to experience a true Gonzaga tradition. Bring a tissue or two. I don’t want to spoil any surprises, but this is a must for all new incoming Gonzaga families.
If you are traveling to Spokane, make sure you make travel reservations well in advance, hotels fill up very quickly. Pay attention to the yearly activities like Fall Family Festival, there many universities in the area that share the same hotel space, just a heads up. All schools seem to have scheduled events and activities over the same weekends so there is competition for rooms.
I’ll share with you that during the junior and senior year, Gonzaga Alumni from businesses and companies provide a “Winter Trek” which students are invited to attend alumni events at companies spread across the nation. This is all setup by Gonzaga Alumni for Gonzaga students.
Study abroad interest; make sure to get ahead of the game if your student is looking to go abroad for a semester or two. It pays to have all the necessary documentation, passport etc. up to date. Last minute passport requests can get expensive if you are not getting it in time. Passports from the middle school years won’t cut it and will need to be renewed. I found myself during holiday break standing in line at the passport office to get one renewed. Again, you can attend informational sessions during move in weekend. If there is any interest in Study Abroad program, it’s never too early to plan ahead.
I find it rewarding that our students, yours and mine, are able to join a community like Gonzaga University. Gonzaga isn’t the easiest school to be accepted into, so this statement alone indicates you have a committed, smart, and confident student. I can sincerely say that my wife and I will miss our trips across the state of Washington to visit Gonzaga. But I have heard that once a ZAG you’re a ZAG for life.
Welcome to the class of 2021!
P.S. If you get a chance attend a Gonzaga Basketball game, do it! Go ZAGS!