Parents preview college experience for third consecutive year
Spending the night in a dorm may not be every parent’s idea of a weekend getaway, but for the 225 parents who attended McDaniel College’s Parent Preview, it was the perfect chance to experience the life their children will begin in a few weeks.
Parents representing about a third of the incoming class attended one of two sessions on the Hill, where they spoke with faculty and staff, mingled with fellow parents, and even had the opportunity to meet McDaniel president Roger Casey at a banquet dinner.
“It’s such a showcase of who we are and how we do things at McDaniel,” said Beth Gerl, dean and vice president of Student Affairs.
Gerl created the program three years ago after an open chat room momentarily crashed due to so much traffic from parents with questions about their child’s college transition. After that, Gerl says the decision to formulate Parent Preview was a “no brainer,” especially with growing numbers of first generation college students, whose parents have not had a college experience.
The two-day program is rife with opportunities for parents to become familiar with the support, services and resources offered to students, as it is the beginning of a lifelong relationship between the college and parents, according to Lindsey Henderson, assistant director of Student Engagement.
“We feel that creating that relationship is so beneficial once the academic year actually begins,” said Henderson.
Phillip and Kathy Seiler, from Essex Junction, Vt., appreciated the opportunity to learn valuable information about McDaniel before their daughter, Alexandra, leaves for college. Their concerns were rooted in the fear of the unknown, but these parents now have a “sense of it’s going to be fine.”
These sentiments are exactly what Gerl was hoping the program would encourage, as she explained that Parent Preview “gives peace of mind and understanding of the sincerity and environment we’ve created at McDaniel.”
Perhaps nobody understands this better than Amy Davis ’88 and Jamie Davis ’89, whose daughter, Mindy, will be coming to McDaniel in the fall.
Amy Davis ’88 and Jamie Davis ’89
“How they’ve approached the first year program speaks to how proud we are to be alumni and to have our daughter go to school here,” said Amy Davis.
The Davises met at McDaniel (then called Western Maryland College) when they were both working as resident assistants in Rouzer Hall. In fact, they attended McDaniel with now-professor Jonathan Slade, who will be their daughter’s First Year Seminar professor and advisor, which they said was an unplanned, yet welcomed, coincidence.
During a panel session, parents had the opportunity to ask six preview guides, current McDaniel students who assist parents throughout the program, about any aspect of the McDaniel experience. Questions ranged from how much homework do students have each week (Depends on the major) and how many clubs are students in on average (Five) to tougher questions, like what do you wish you had known before you came to college (There is no such thing as a 5-minute Facebook check) and what is your least favorite thing about McDaniel (Walmart isn’t open 24/7).
“They are very willing to tell it like it is,” said Kathy Seiler.
With the program growing every year, Gerl says that the feedback she has received from parents has been overwhelmingly positive. She hopes to one day reach 100 percent parent participation.
“A student coming to college is a family event,” said Gerl. “When do you make a bigger investment than this?”