The evening began with an intentionally playful process using a panel interview format à la Jimmy Fallon: there was no preparation of questions but no lip syncing either. The audience were witnesses to the interview conducted by Jonny Morris that contained many thoughtful responses from the alumni, parents, university/college counselors, and a university prof who formed the panel. The audience then moved into the world cafe format where the panelists and other invited guests became consultants at tables for small group discussion focused on their area of expertise.
There was so much information and sage advice shared by participants and panelists alike. Here are some of the gems that I heard discussed:
- Looking in the rear view mirror of the transition from SMUS to university and sharing those experiences with the audience.
- The challenges of the transition to living in residence and having new found freedom.
- Alumni reported excitement about leaving the SMUS nest.
- Parent reaction to students leaving goes from one end of the spectrum to the other: elation to desperation. There is often a natural growing away from each other in the time just before the departure.
- Everyone has a different response to transition, both those leaving and those being left: some are dancing on the ceiling, others have difficult dinner table conversations with sad siblings.
- Importance of fit: knowing yourself (or your child) well enough to know that they have a place that is good for them, even when it is hard for them.
- Students often come to university with expectations and when they aren’t met (especially when they think it should happen quickly), that can be very challenging experience for students. Have patience with the process and with the experience.
- Students must do some self-monitoring and themselves, ‘How am I doing at university?’. Be honest with yourself and seek support.
- Remember that it is normal to shop around for courses! Try out the class and the prof early in the semester and if it’s not the right fit, drop it and try to find one that is.
- There is usually one course in the first two years that a student stops going to because they are out of their depth or disinterested (see point above).
- Ratemyprofessor.com is a good resource when used wisely! Read the comments and make your own decision about whether the prof is a good fit for your learning style.
- Thanksgiving is the loneliest time for students if they can’t go home: the cafeteria is usually closed, students have to cook for themselves, and most of the nearby residents leave the premises. Try to find a way to bring your son/daughter home, or to meet up with them during that long weekend.
Parent tip: You might have to learn to SnapChat if you want to stay in touch.
Student tip: Be honest with your parents about your experiences. And call home once in a while.