My twin nieces are high school seniors and are starting to make final decisions about where they will go to college. For many, the path is not completely clear: Do they go to college? A trade school? Work full-time? Or even go into the military? These are choices that will begin to shape their future.
Fortunately for those who choose to attend college, their institution is likely to have programs in place to help transition students and parents for the changes that come with embarking upon higher education. For many students, departing for college is an adventure, a way to reinvent themselves. For others, anticipating leaving home and taking on a difficult course schedule in college can create a great deal of stress. Today, to address all of this, students attend orientation programs in the spring and summer as colleges set expectations before the “first year students” arrive for classes in the fall.
What does the college expect of their students? What do the students expect from the school they will be attending? What do parents expect of their student and the college as they begin putting money into their child’s education?
You will find that all three expectations are a bit different.
Colleges and Universities want independent students — they want students to deal with their own successes and failures. They seek to treat students as adults, whether they are living away from home or commuting to campus. They seek to help students learn how to solve their own problems without having to always rely on their parents.
Students want to be educated, but they want a social life as well. They want to make a difference in the community and the world – seeking to have a bigger life experience. They want this to all to be FUN!! Since college is a time where students have primary responsibility for themselves – the opportunities for developing their self-awareness are many.
Parents want their child to graduate, ideally in four years. They want them to get good grades. They want them to have wonderful experiences that will insure an excellent job and a successful career. While some of today’s parents may be over involved (a/k/a: the dreaded “helicopter parents”) they do so to insure that their students has the best possible college experience.
Some of the important educational sessions students and parents will attend during orientation center around the question, “What do you want out of your college experience?” For students, the answers often revolve around living away from home, what to do with so much free time, improving study habits and having successful interpersonal relationships. These sessions often help students see that “everything will be alright.”
Separate sessions for parents often help them develop realistic expectations of their student, letting go of “helicopter” habits, and how family dynamics may change as they begin college. These keynote orientations for students and parents are a great way to get different generations in sync and prepared for what’s to come.
Throughout these orientation programs, a special group of students, the “Orientation Leaders” standby new students and parents leading them and being available to answer questions about anything related to college life. These special students receive intense and specific training so that they understand and can advise students and parents with regard to the anxieties that come with this new experience. These students also empower parents and students with knowledge and information so that they may fully engagement in the college experience.
If you are interested in a dynamic start to this year’s Freshman Orientation season, consider using Michael Miller to help you create a program that powerfully addresses the needs of students, parents and helps prepare Orientation Leaders for their work with these groups.
For more information on Michael Miller and Orientation Sessions – please call 781-436-3187.