Monday, June 11, 2007

College Orientation

Last week I spent a day and a half at my daughter's college orientation. She's going to attend a school which is only 30 minutes away, so we did not stay overnight. About 400 students were there for their orientation, so a large crowd of parents was also in attendance. The first morning we parents were treated to skits and lectures to assist us in helping our children adjust to college life. One speaker talked about "helicopter parents".......those parents who hover too low over their child's life, producing a disturbance which clouds the situation instead of helping it. I smiled to myself as soon as I heard the words.....I had never heard that term before, but it makes perfect sense to me. At this point in a young adult child's life, the parents need to retreat somewhat into the background, "hovering" high in thought and prayer......and sending money, of course!

This is my third experience with launching a child into college, so I feel fairly relaxed about the whole thing. As I surveyed the crowd of parents, I could tell that some were more anxious than others about their child entering college. Of course, in a crowd that size, there were parents of all ages, some in their sixties, some in their thirties, and many in the middle like me.

We attended other sessions on financial aid, student services, and spiritual aspects. As I walked along with the crowd from place to place, I tried to read nametags to see where people were from. One mother I happened to walk next to was from a small town in hilly northeast Iowa, so I commented on that to her. We ended up having a great conversation. It turned out that she also lives on a dairy farm, and has a child getting married this summer, like me. Cool! Her daughter was planning to major in geology in college.

Our lunch was served in a high-ceilinged ballroom in one of the older buildings on campus. In around 1918 or so, my grandmother had attended school here for two years after 8th grade, to get a certificate to teach in the country one-room schoolhouses. I wondered if maybe she had spent time in the old building we were in. At my lunch table were three mothers from the Dubuque area, one whose child had graduated from a Christian Academy across the Mississippi River, in Galena, Illinois. These mothers' children were all planning to become teachers.

My daughter is a bit undecided about her major. She is interested in art and humanities, but says she does not want to teach. Time will tell.

By the end of orientation, my brain felt ready to burst, full of all the information that had been presented to us. I was very glad to finally get back home and go to sleep.

The next morning we had to be back on campus at 7:15 a.m. for my daughter's class registration appointment. I enjoyed the continental breakfast and waited for a turn to talk to the financial aid people. Oh, joy. Lots of loans. Then my daughter got her meningitis vaccination and we browsed the computer booths for awhile. She wants to buy a laptop computer, but has to decide between a PC or a Mac. I wish I was more knowledgeable about such things.

Anyway, the orientation all went well. My daughter and her roommate, who is from western Iowa, have been talking via e-mails and face-book chat. They have to figure out who has what appliances, supplies, etc., for their dorm room. Hopefully, the two girls will get along ok. One never knows, but needs to go into it with a positive, optimistic attitude.......that's what I'm trying to get across to my daughter, anyway.

Happy college orientations to everyone!!

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