Parent Newsletter June 2018
In less than two weeks, I will be taking a trip down a road you all have traveled. With 9 college visits lined up in a two week period, our summer vacation is “surfing” the college campus. I am excited for these visits because I appreciate being on a different college campus and seeing how other institutions present the student experience. I can always learn something when I visit a campus whether it's finding a good idea to bring back home or changing how we approach different issues.
With a daughter who has grown up on and around college campuses, this high school senior has a pretty clear idea of what she wants with respect to a college campus and community. She also has a strong idea of what she would like to study, although less about what she might do in the future. This college search process is so important to help a prospective student discern whether a college will be a good “fit.”
I think about students who come to Luther with a clear picture of what they want out of their college experience. And, for me, fit often rises up as a critical component and something that can be at times difficult to discern. How do we figure out and successfully answer the fit question when the average high school senior is applying to 7 or more colleges? The volume of information - printed, web, onsite visit - can be overwhelming and create a scenario where you feel like you are drinking water out of a firehose.
Since I am on the front end of this experience, I can’t state whether I will be able to successfully filter out the “noise” and focus on what truly matters. I think my daughter could struggle with this information overload. Thankfully, she’s rather detailed in how she assesses opportunities, but this is something new and different- and complex. Ultimately, finding a way to slow down the process is essential in order to identify what makes one college more compelling than another. Being equipped with the lenses we have from our experiences, I like to believe we can do this. At the same time, we’re rookies and with that come rookie mistakes.
What I know from students with whom I have talked over the years is that patience is the best equalizer. Being patient about what you believe about yourself and the college you attend can yield dividends. That sense of having made a major mistake can downright disable a student from fully engaging in their experience. I know that students often communicate back to family at home about their experiences and I know my daughter will be sharing with us her experiences as well. I sincerely hope she will engage with the people and resources where she ultimately lands as they can provide effective guidance and support to her. They are well-equipped to support her educational journey and just like we do here at Luther, they are there to help.
Based upon research conducted by the JED Foundation in 2015, 65% of first-year students kept their feelings about their experiences to themselves. 45% also thought everyone else had college figured out. For students, appreciating the normalized experiences of being a student can help them better engage in college and more fully realize the fit they originally perceived is there for them. For some students, this discovery (or rediscovery) of fit happens over a period time. There’s a great line in the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it they will come.” I think an equally powerful line for students could be, if you are patient, fit will come.
As the end of the academic year has transitioned into summer, I hope this time is providing opportunities for students to refresh, renew, and rejuvenate in preparation for the coming academic year.