Parents of first-year students sample all things McDaniel
In the midst of the normally quiet summer months at McDaniel College, 160 parents of the Class of 2016 spent two days having their own orientation to college life, a month before their children arrive on campus.
Traveling from around the country – from Alabama, Alaska and even California – parents learned from professors, staff and administration in campus classrooms and spent a night in Blanche Ward residence hall.
Betsy Lawrence with her twins, Haley and Mimi, at the beginning of the preview.
Betsy Lawrence of Cabin John, Md., experienced a role reversal when her twin girls, Haley and Mimi, dropped her off at the dormitory. Lawrence, a single mother who adopted the girls from China when they were just 6 months old, was convinced by Dean of Student Affairs Beth Gerl during a previous visit when Gerl said, “If someone were going to make this kind of investment, why wouldn’t they come (to the preview)?”
“As a business professional, this is the easiest way to get all my questions answered,” said Lawrence, pulling out a stack of letters, tuition statements and notes.
As a clinical psychologist, she also considers the growth of both the parent and child.
“We have to expand, we have to go forward and have new life experiences,” she said. “Parent Preview caps the opportunity to say, it’s not just about the child moving forward, it’s about the parent moving forward as well.”
Its goal, according to Gerl, is to help families navigate a smooth transition from high school and home to the McDaniel College community and its campus, to provide a personalized, highly parent-centered experience which begins the moment a golf cart meets the parent at their car and continues through the small group presentations and discussions to the experience of staying on campus for a night.
“The reality is that an entire family makes a commitment when their student begins their college career, so forming partnerships with our parents is crucial,” Gerl said.
After checking into their dorm rooms, the parents attended sessions on academics, residence life, student engagement, international programs, campus safety, financial aid and more.
“This is really an unprecedented relationship for parents with the college,” said junior student guide Teal Koch. “As much as technology helps, there is less face to face. On this level it gives the parents a chance to come back to college and ask us personal questions.”
McDaniel President Roger Casey chats with a parent during the evening banquet.
Parents ate meals in both the newly renovated Englar Dining Hall and Decker Forum for a banquet with McDaniel President Roger Casey. After a resource fair and comedy skit in Alumni Theatre, parents experienced the late night of a college student at a 10 p.m. reception in McDaniel Lounge. “The last parent didn’t leave until after midnight,” said Mike Robbins, director of Residence Life.
Debbie Mayer, a mother of five from Arnold, Md., is part of a close-knit family. Although the family lives in Maryland, her fourth child, John, will be traveling the farthest away from home when he attends McDaniel in the fall.
“Picking a college can be a very logical experience. But once John got on campus, there was something intangible (that caused him to choose McDaniel),” said Mayer. “I wanted to feel that.”