From Parent Council

Students’ Perspectives

Every month I enjoy receiving in my in-box the monthly Parents Perspectives newsletter from George Fox. It is another “link” to the goings-on in my students’ lives (yes, I have more than one). I check out the latest calendars to know what will be shared in chapel, how our sports teams are doing, and what reminders need to be on my personal calendar. I love to hear from the administration – new plans and goals for the university and funny and heartwarming stories about people and events on campus. And, of course, I am always curious to read the articles from other parents – how are they faring with this role of “parent of a college student.” It is good to know that I am not alone as we sometimes flawlessly and sometimes imperfectly tackle this role of “parent of a college student.” I appreciate hearing the personal stories, the triumphs, the worries and the encouragement.

But, I wonder. I wonder if this parental involvement has much impact on the college experience of our students. And, if so, how much? Is it positive? Needed? Wanted? So I asked. I asked my students for their perspective on what it has meant to them to have parents who participate (intimately and at a distance) – parents who pray, call, visit, are involved. What affects are played out in my students’ lives as well as in their hearts when I visit over Family Weekend, know their friends by sight and name, ask about a difficult class, or even when the entries on my personal calendar note “Missions Week at GFU,” “GFU vs. Pacific Lutheran, 6 p.m.,” “Finals week – remember to pray.”

Here are the responses I received:

Zachary (Class of 2006, health and human performance major/biology minor, married a GFU alum, working as an at-risk youth counselor)
“If there is one thing I’ve learned about people and success, it is that regardless of age or background, every individual needs someone to come along and instill a sense of value and purpose in them. I have been fortunate to have had so many of these types of people contribute to my life, but chief among them has always been my parents.
My college experience at George Fox was an immensely positive and life-changing one, and like many other significant endeavors, could be seen as a team accomplishment rather than an individual one. Like other parents, my mother and father offered their financial assistance when tuition became expensive, but the real difference they made was the sum-total of many smaller interactions over the four-year period. Seemingly generic allowances like phone calls, prayers, help with laundry, or an enthusiastic reaction to an “A” grade or new girlfriend were the kinds of gestures that reminded me that regardless of my performance, I would still hold a place of honor and importance in their vision of the world. And that has made all the difference."

Casey (Class of 2008, vocal performance major/sociology minor, presently in the GFU MBA program – graduating 2011)
“My parents are synonymous with the dozens of incredible experiences I had at George Fox University. I believe parents are responsible to allow their children the opportunity to grow and flourish, but knowing that I always had a support group and fan base in my parents made that opportunity all the more amazing. My parents shared in both the excitement and the drama of my college experience, eagerly awaiting the days when I would call home and share the most minute of details (homework load, spiritual insights, girls, etc.). No matter what choices I made regarding my major or future plans, my parents were there to spur me on and offer their inexhaustible supply of love and guidance.
You honestly don't realize how much you miss your parents after leaving home and entering the collegiate world. It made my parents’ brief visits to campus moments I waited for with palatable anticipation. There were always perks to them showing up (free dinner, laundry services, etc.), but I most looked forward to seeing the excitement on their faces when I would get the chance to share with them how much I loved George Fox and the opportunities it allotted me as a student. Now that I am in the graduate business program at George Fox, I rely on their support and guidance all the more. How blessed I truly am that they are willing and available to give it.”

Whew! OK, there you have it – the students’ perspective. Mom and dad … keep up the involvement. It makes a difference. It is desired. And when looking back, they would not have wanted college without it. So, keep praying, visit, get to know their friends, call before finals or after a “big” date, and remember to jot down on your calendar … starting April 7 “The Taming of the Shrew” is playing, finals are April 26-29, graduation is April 30, pray for May Serve 2011 trips, and, oh yeah … they are coming home for summer starting April 30. Enjoy!

Liz Kanen