Or, We’ll Do the Best We Can with What You Have Sent Us.
(No one in their right mind would ever have me talk to the parents of incoming freshmen at our university, but if they did…)
Good morning and welcome! We are so happy to have you in our family.
This time of year fills us all with excitement and nervous energy, and no one can relate to that more than you, the families of our incoming freshmen. You are wondering what to expect from this experience – and so are we at _______________. Because just as every student is unique, so too is that student’s experience. So too is your experience. So too is ours. And every new experience is an opportunity for challenges, learning, and growth.
Challenges. Learning. Growth.
All of these things must take place for students to succeed, and they will – if we let them. I am not going to tell you to let go, because you won’t. And you shouldn’t, because your student will need your support at times when success seems far away. You are their best cheerleaders.
Traditional society considers an 18 year old to be an adult, but research suggests that approximately 50% of parents, college administrators, and the students themselves do not feel that to be true. How then does that transformation to “adult” take place? Some ways are mastering new tasks, developing the ability to manage the emotions, and learning from mistakes. There will be some mistakes along this journey. Forgetting due dates. Believing pizza will give you all the vegetables you need. Navigating the tricky nuances of new friendships and expanding social circles.
Things will go wrong, but the growth and learning will come from how these things going wrong are made right by the person they are happening to. This is where your support is helpful – not by fixing things but by reassuring the student that they have it in them to persevere. That they have the tools both within themselves and within the University. Every issue is a goal and every goal met, no matter how small, helps to work towards the larger goals of independence and adulthood – and of course, a degree.
Things will also go right! With each challenge accomplished, no matter how small, the student’s competence and confidence will grow, providing them with the momentum to accomplish things they never would have thought possible.
They will expand their worldview.
They will learn to lead.
They will do great things.
Our challenge is to guide them without pushing; support them without carrying.
Can I guarantee a college career for the student free of any bumps, disappointments, or hardship? I cannot. Nor would I want to. But we will work with that student – the newest member of our family – every step of the way to become a scholar, a leader, and an adult who is better for having been here. That I can guarantee.
At this time of year, this post is always the most widely read one I have. Are there that many of you having to do this kind of speech? Weird. I hope it helps…or shows you what not to do. One of those.