Three Helpful College Orientation Tips For Parents

It’s that time of year again.  I can tell from my social media.  Thousands of high school seniors have just graduated and many will be going off to college in the fall.  Some will be the first child in the family to leave the nest, beginning the empty nest process for their parents.  Some will be the last, solidifying the reality of an empty nest life for their parents.

For all the graduating seniors, unless they are starting college in the summer, it’s the last summer at home.  The emotions probably range from one extreme to another, for both the students and their parents.

Time To Get Oriented

One of the rites of passage for students going away to college is orientation.  I had two teens go to college out of state so the summer orientation visit was a big deal.  Here are some things I learned.

  • Go to orientation. You will learn so much as a parent and it will ease your teen into the role of college student.
  • Learn the campus.  In the fall, it will help you visualize where they are when you are talking to them.
  • Insist that they attend ALL of the meetings at orientation, even the ones they don’t think will interest them.

My First College Orientation As a Parent

Fourteen summers ago, we took our firstborn to his college orientation at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.  I remember two incidents well.  

The first one was seemingly insignificant but, it meant the world to me.  During one of the breaks, I went to the student dining area to get a soft drink.  I must have had a “deer in the headlights” look because this nice gentleman said the kindest thing.  He asked if my son or daughter was heading to UA and I told him my son would be coming in the fall.  In a thick, southern drawl, he said “Mama, don’t you worry about a thing.  We’re gonna take good care of your boy”.  I almost lost it.

The next incident turned out to be one of those “God winks”. 

The college orientation lasted two days.  Our son attended several information sessions and took some placement tests.  While he was in his meetings, my husband and I attended the sessions for parents.  They even had a program for siblings, which our daughter attended.

A Divine Appointment

The last meeting of the last day, was an informational meeting for Campus Ministries, Greek Life and Student Government.  My son didn’t want to go, said he wasn’t interested in those things.  He had already backed out of a social event the night before.  But, I insisted.  I begged him to go, just to humor me.  He went, not too happy and dragging his feet.

When my husband and I finished our last meeting, we went out into the lobby area to wait for our son.  We saw students filing out of the room and kept an eye out for him.  We waited and waited and waited.

Finally, we saw him coming down the stairs excitedly talking with another young man.  We noticed another set of waiting parents and assumed they belonged to our son’s new acquaintance.  When they got to us, we all introduced ourselves to each other and started to piece together an interesting story.

Out of several hundred students attending the first session of Bama Bound in 2007, two guys meet each other at the last meeting of the last day.  They are both from Florida and live about forty-five minutes apart.  They both graduated from Christian schools and attended large Baptist churches in their hometown.  Our son’s High School Sunday School teacher, a graduate of The University of Alabama encouraged him to look at UA as a possible college to attend.  His brother encouraged a young man in his church to consider UA.  Both young men decided to attend UA and ended up at the same orientation meeting, one of three or four scheduled that summer.

Jay went to the social with his new friend, Collin.  They were both locked into dorm assignment for the fall, but Jay was able to change dorms when one of Collin’s roommates left. They became good friends and ended up living together until graduation.

You may call that a coincidence or serendipity, but I like to think of it as a divine appointment.  Jay and Collin had completely different majors and may have never met had I not insisted he go to that last meeting.  I believe God prompted me to be so insistent.

So moms (and dads), enjoy your child’s college orientation this summer. If you feel a nudge in your spirit, insist.  Then, enjoy the rest of your summer making memories.  Fall will be here before you know it.  And that’s another story.


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