Not the Alice you were looking for

My partner and I have daily conversations about who can depart work at what time and transport our children from school to home to soccer/piano/library/name your favorite miscellaneous activity. I mentioned that we need an “Alice” to help keep our busy schedules.

The Dad: Alice? Do we have zombies running around?

Me: Huh? You know, Alice. Alice from The Brady Bunch.

The Dad: Oh, I thought you meant Alice from Resident Evil.

First-Year Experience Prep: The Quiz

Our dean of students office contributes to sessions throughout the university’s fifteen summer orientation programs including a welcome, faculty panel, family program and resource fair. Prior to the faculty panel that I facilitate most mornings, our orientation staff shares a list of discussion questions, a quiz of sorts, for parents and families to share with their student on the ride home from orientation. This quiz is a handy tool for any prospective first-year student and for the families they leave behind.

What is something you learned at orientation that surprised you?

What are your academic and social expectations for the first semester of college?

How will you handle things if your expectations aren’t met?

How often do you think we’ll talk and communicate during your first semester? What
will be the best times for us to connect?

How do you feel about your class schedule? Are you excited about your major?

What will you do if you get yourself into a jam?

How we should approach discussing money while you’re at school?

What information will we share through third-party access at the university?

What kind of meal plan do you think will be best for you?

How will we prepare for move-in day?

What will it be like to say goodbye?

When you think about beginning your first day at the university, what are you most excited about? What are you most nervous about?


What other topics should first-year students and their families discuss before the fall semester?

Catch and Release

The story of an Italian family who so smothered the social growth of their 12-year old boy that they are now being charged with child abuse was featured in Time Magazine this week. The boy had the motor skills of a toddler and had been so overprotected that that he could not mentally or physically keep up with children his own age. The article also cited a recent psychological study finding that 37% of Italian men from the ages of 30 to 34 still live with their mothers. Which makes me think that perhaps the hovering helicopter parents that we encounter in U.S. higher education are not all that bad.

In my student affairs work with first-generation college students and their families, I am frequently reminded of the Chinese Proverb,

Give a person a fish, and you feed them a day. Teach a person to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime.

Parents will call or email with questions regarding a program, service or special campus event. They are not seeking information for themselves; they are questions for their student. Although the intent is well meaning, I will generally invite parents to have their student contact me. My reasoning is that it is critically important for students to build their own networks of resources, on campus and in life. The “teach a person to fish” proverb is essential in all matters related to a college education. There is a lot to think about for an 18-year old in the transition to college. Parents and families need to set the teaching example, not just do the job for students.

Transcending feelings

David Letterman isn’t generally someone I look to for parenting advice, but last night in his discussion with guest, Julia Roberts, the joy and love that he feels for his son and for parenthood really came through.

Here’s the other thing, if you want to get spiritual about it, why doesn’t that feeling, that everyone on the planet has, why doesn’t that transcend to keep us from killing one another?

Yeah. Why is that?

This video includes the discussion within the first 1:20.