I have to tell you, it’s been a whirlwind of a beginning around here, because BU has welcomed its biggest freshman class ever (606)! I’m sure you’ve felt the excitement/heartache/pandemonium/anxiety/pride/love on your end as well. What a collection of emotions for you and your students.
The other day, I made a class presentation in a Freshman Focus class. I asked the students how it was going so far. Most of them seemed a bit tired (no surprise) but relatively alert, and also seemed to feel like things were going pretty well. One young man to my right said, “I’m waiting for college to get hard.”
I struggled with how to respond. Bellarmine typically challenges students, especially with regards to academics, so I wanted to say, “Oh, don’t worry. You’ll have your share of ‘hard.'” But then I thought, “Gosh, that’s kind of a downer thing to say at the end of first week.” And I shut my mouth. On the other hand, I didn’t want this student to feel alone or unprepared when he starts to get tossed by those first rough waves. So I said, ” The answer to your question is about a week and a half.” I felt like that was fair.
My message to you here, BUDs (Bellarmine University Dads) and Bellarmoms, is that, while these first few weeks are full of fun, joy, new things, excitement, and a little bit of the warm and fuzzies, your student will very soon encounter his or her first test or paper, or first bit of roomie strife, or a hangup at the bookstore, or run out of cash (WAAAAYYYY) sooner than you expected, or have concerns about a professor. All too soon, college will get HARD.
And I don’t just mean academically. Yes, your student is likely to experience a bit of ‘”first test fallout” (see below video), but he or she will also not leave freshman year unscathed by a breakup, an illness, a tumultuous friendship, a hard decision about his/her future, a really, really bad day, and some homesickness. These things will happen.
Now, I don’t have students in college, it’s true. But I had a Mom when I was in college (not so very long ago), and I can pass along some helpful things she said to be during a truly difficult freshman year (and still says, sometimes, after a very rough day).
1) Whatever situation it was that I kept insisting was the worst thing ever to happen to me, she’d respond to it by saying, “People have survived torture longer than you’ve lived with crazy roommate/been broke/taken this really hard class/whatever else/. Surely, you can do this.” That really puts things in perspective.
2) “Get a good night’s sleep and think about this again in the morning.” Works every time.
3) “Every problem is solvable. That’s the nature of a problem–you can solve it. Stop thinking of the problem and start thinking of the solution.”
As a professional, I have seen/heard similar situations play out time and time again, so I can tell you from both sides of the fence that these tough love platitudes do go pretty far. It’s important that students acknowledge the obstacle or challenge, then focus on learning how to resolve the issue themselves.
Has the other shoe dropped for you guys yet? What’s it feeling like now that things are settling down?
Director of Writing and Parent Communications, ARC