Parents’ Weekend. A trip to the grocery store for healthy snacks to keep in the dorm room. A trip to the local Mall for new fall clothes. Nice meals out with roommates and new friends. A pitch from the university to join the “Parents’ Committee” or “Parents’ Club” or whatever your child’s school calls its volunteer fundraisers (which they charge you to join). We’ve just finished two parents’ weekends, back to back, and we’re broke!
I mean, it was so great to see the girls. Emily is making the transition to her “new” school as a sophomore transfer, and Grace has hit the ground running, facing all the freshman thrills. Seeing them doing well, growing where they are planted — that part is priceless. But the rest of it has a slightly insidious feel, like we are not even conscious of the up-sell. Their friends all seem more sophisticated, and better dressed, with better hair care products. It’s so tempting to change to make new friends. Alas, it never worked for me, and my guess is, wouldn’t work for them, either.
There was programming, too. We got to participate in some lectures offered by faculty, listen to comments offered by deans, and watch campus a capella and improv groups. Parts of the program helped us remember our own undergrad days, and the feeling of learning in an environment created for growth. We hoped that the richness of that fact — that the places where they are living are designed exclusively and purposefully for their growth and well-being — is not wasted on these kids. My husband and I agreed we would both love to go back to college, but as our current selves, not our 18 year old selves. We know we would treat it differently now.
We have asked ourselves: Are Parents’ Weekends for the kids? Or for the parents? They are strategically scheduled in mid-October, right at the mid-way point between drop off and Thanksgiving. Administrators know the freshmen will likely be feeling the distance from home by now, and parents are surely missing their kids. Cynical me wonders if they just want to get us on campus because the adrenaline rush will numb us to the tuition bill that is heading our way for second semester. Regardless, we are so happy to have been there, so happy to have held them close, and now we can start the count-down until they return for Thanksgiving.