College orientation: the parent trap

If you’ve checked in today for something quilty, I apologize. The only thing I have for now is the latest Aunt Grace blocks:



I am going through a bit of a sewing/quilting dry spell; plus, I enjoyed time with my niece who was in town for a few days last week, so not much would’ve gotten done anyway.

In the meantime, in the month since graduation, we’ve been celebrating the end of high school. We thought we were done with school.

Apparently not.

We just returned from two days with Ross at college orientation/registration.


It seems, at our son’s school of choice, the act of registering for classes has swelled to epic proportions, necessitating extensive parental involvement in everything but your student’s registering for classes. From that, parents are banned.

While students were going through the orientation program, parents were treated to endless seminars and lectures on the following topics:

Day 1

  • Transitions
  • Safety
  • Academics
  • Faculty Panel
  • Academic Advising
  • Financial Aid, eBilling
  • Resource Fair
  • Interest Sessions

Day 2

  • Supporting First Generation College Students
  • The Ram Life Tips for being a CSU Ram during this energizing session—HUH? (We skipped this one.)
  • Student Health
  • Housing and Dining
  • Career Center
  • Interest Sessions
  • Student Diversity Programs and Services

On the plus side, the program was well organized and well-staffed—very friendly, enthusiastic orientation leaders.

At times it got a bit overwhelming. Mostly, though, a lot of it seemed unnecessary, redundant and a bit of overkill.

A fair amount of the information presented at orientation was covered in the college tour we took last November, and all of it is on the university’s website, so I’m not sure why we were tied up for two days. Can we just meet with the advisor, register for classes and be on our way?

Apparently not.

On the annoying side was the psychology lecture about transitioning your student to college, complete with this strange looking graphic called Bridges’ Transition Model

Bridges' Transition Model

which was coupled with explanations of potential behaviors and interactions that might arise between students and parents in the weeks leading up to moving into the dorm.

Um, here’s a thought: How about kids (and parents who need to) suck it up and deal the way we did when we were that age?

Apparently not.

As the psychobabble continued, a scene from Die Hard popped into my head. It’s the one after the TV station learns that terrorists have overtaken Nakatomi Plaza, and to stretch out news coverage, they call in an author/expert on terrorism and begin to interview him:

Newscaster:  Author of Hostage Terrorist, Terrorist Hostage: A Study in Duality. Dr. Hasseldorf, what can we expect in the next few hours?

Dr. Hasseldorf:  Well, Gail, by this time the hostages should be going through the early stages of the Helsinki Syndrome.

The title of that fictional academic book has always cracked me up and yesterday it was especially funny, given our circumstances.

We also had to endure lame PowerPoint slides like this:



One topic that left us most unhappy was the discussion about the federal HIPPA law. In certain circumstances it’s probably a good idea, but is completely unreasonable when it comes to college students who are still dependents. If your child needs physical or mental medical services, the parents are not allowed access to those records, even though they are the ones paying the bill. Newly added to our to-do list is pursuing ways to circumvent this.

Moving back to the plus column, saying that dining services have greatly improved since our college days is an understatement. Check out the dining hall in the dorm where students stayed the night:

Braiden Hall1

Braiden Hall2

Braiden Hall3

Braiden Hall4

In addition to the tons of choices offered each and every day, students can go online and pre-order a sandwich for pick up the next day if their schedule is tight; they have online access to nutrition, calorie and ingredient information for everything that is served, fresh fruits and vegetables are offered every day, and some ambiance exists in their dining halls, compared to the sterile, military style setup we had in college.

Large lecture classrooms have also improved, with more comfortable seating, better acoustics, and more space to spread out your notebooks and textbooks:


All in all, registration went fine, but the experience gave me a strange feeling, a conclusion that there are no budget issues at this university. By faculty and staff members’ own admission during every seminar we attended, there is a campus resource or service for literally everything under the sun—that no student’s need, want or desire would at any time go unmet—like paying for an all-night buffet, even though you’ll be asleep for nearly all of it. Apparently, there is more than enough money for these offerings, raising a nagging question about the extent to which all these programs, and the staff and infrastructure to run them, have increased tuition? I doubt I would like the answer.


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