This page annually features words of advice to incoming Colonials from the people who have been to their own Colonial Inaugurations, and rarely do we offer advice to the other CI visitors: parents.
To the parents of the members of the Class of 2015, I know some of you are walking around campus and putting on brave faces because you want your child to feel comfortable here.
Of course, I know that under that fa?ade of confidence, many of you are petrified of the looming date that is move-in day. Will he be ready? Will she pick the right classes? Will he even go to his classes? Your son or daughter is probably already freaked out, so try to maintain that bravery as you listen to administrators and students tell you why GW is so special.
GW is special, and Colonial Inauguration is as much of an orientation for you as it is for your children. My dad accompanied me to CI three summers ago, and I hoped that he would love GW as much as I did. I think deep down, even after the deposit was in, he still needed a bit of convincing that his eldest daughter would be fine going to college in a big city.
CI convinced him, but I think even though he was nervous about my time at GW, he was more nervous about my time at college in general. As parents at CI, try to remember that this is an opportunity for you to learn more about why your son or daughter chose GW, and why you are agreeing to send this school so much money. Talk to the administrators and upperclassmen and go to information sessions.
Yes, you will feel better about GW, and you will also feel better about the process of letting go.
Possibly one of the most important pieces of advice I have to offer is to let your sons or daughters immerse themselves in their college experiences, starting now. It is best not to hover, because this time is their opportunity to get a preview of their time at GW, and latching onto your child now will make the goodbyes in the fall that much harder.
Of course, take advantage of the activities that are offered to both students and parents, as this can make for some very nice pre-college bonding. But ultimately, CI does a notable job of splitting up the activities so that students will be able to meet other students and see GW. They need that time, and they need your support to break away and go on those D.C. outings without you. Your son or daughter will be just fine.
I’ll never forget how one day, between CI activities, I told my dad I was going to go with some new friends to check out GW’s student newspaper. Instead of offering to join or telling me to see it another time, he said he would meet up with me later and waved goodbye. I still wonder whether he knew that my first trip to The Hatchet’s townhouse would be so significant to my time at GW. But it made all the difference.
So as you, the parents, walk around campus and gather pamphlets on everything from housing to dining, know that this is the start of an amazing time for you. I think my dad realized that CI marked the start of my college experience, even though I had to wait a few more weeks to step into my first class. And I didn’t think of it that way – until now.
You want your son or daughter to think of these few days as the time that they really started to love GW and college. So put on a brave face, give them time to explore and tell them you will meet up later, because your student will appreciate that, and may even thank you one day.
-The writer, a senior majoring in journalism, is a senior columnist.