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University of the Pacific
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, California 95211

Parent Newsletter

As Told By Teryn: Communication

November 2015

by Teryn Stewart

It is almost Thanksgiving, which means it is time to make plans to head home for the holidays! Planning to go home can be stressful; depending on how far from Pacific you live, so here are a few suggestions on how to make your student's travels a little easier.

First of all, you need to know when our Thanksgiving break is! Classes are not held from Wednesday the 25th through Friday the 27th, but professors occasionally will cancel class for the week knowing that students are excited to go home. The key word there is occasionally, because professors also tend to give a quiz or exam that week before we leave, so be sure the check in with your student regarding their schedule. Also, if you are reserving a seat on a plane, train, or bus, make sure you give your student plenty of time to guarantee he or she will be in that seat. 

There are many ways to travel out of Stockton, but some are definitely easier than others. I have found that the most convenient way is to drive, but I also understand that not everyone has a car on campus; however, at least one person in anybody's friend group probably does have a car. Your student should find a friend heading in the same direction as them and load up! Road trips with friends make some of the best college memories, so encourage your student to take advantage of the open road (well maybe not that open with holiday traffic) and have their playlist ready! Carpooling is both environmentally friendly and can save your student money by splitting the cost of gas. Pacific students use a facebook page to post about finding a roommate or selling textbooks, so also encourage your student to post and offer a seat in their car if they are driving a long distance to help out any other students!

Another great way to travel is by sky. Pacific engineers have not yet figured out the aerodynamics of human flight, so a plane ticket is the best option! The closest airports to Pacific are SMF in Sacramento, OAK in Oakland, SFO in South San Francisco, and SJC in San Jose. Once your student has booked his or her flight, be sure they figure out how to get to that airport. If carpooling is not ideal, another option is Bay Area Public Transit, known as BART, which your student can catch in Pleasanton. Pleasanton is roughly an hour drive from campus, and then it will be at least another hour by BART to get to either OAK or SFO. SJC and SMF are accessible by Lyft or Uber, but the prices for transportation vary and can be found online. A number of airport shuttle options are also available and information regarding those can be found on the Pacific website under "Trasportation." If your student prefers to keep his or her feet on the ground, there is also an Amtrak station in Stockton just 15 minutes from campus! From there your student can go almost anywhere in the US, and if that is not enough we also have a Greyhound bus stop a half hour from campus. The opportunities to travel are endless!            

If none of these transportation options work out, your student can meet the families of his or her college friends and head to someone else's Thanksgiving dinner, which could make for fun memories and stories in the future. And, as we all know, Pacific is an amazing community that understands not all students are able to leave campus every holiday. For your students that are planning to stay on campus, have no fear! Pacific sets up its own thanksgiving dinner that your student can attend. There are many options to consider, and now is the time to ask your student what he or she would like to do and work out all the details. While you are at it, talk about your student's Winter Break travels now too before seats fill up, and have a Happy Thanksgiving! :)

October 2015 

by Teryn Stewart

As a parent or family member of a RETURNING college student, you probably have already discovered that keeping in touch with your student is not nearly as easy as it was before college. It makes sense, considering your student may not be living at home anymore, but even if they are living at home, they now have an incredibly busy academic and social calendar. Is it still possible to rekindle communication and keep in touch on a regular basis?

For parents and family members of a NEW college student, you may now be realizing that your student does not answer your phone calls or return texts as quickly as before, if at all. Do not worry! The transition to college is one of the biggest experiences your student has gone though, so it makes sense that your student is trying to navigate how to be independent - independent of his or her parents and families.  

As a junior at Pacific, I have gone through the emotions of that initial separation - when my mom finally left after helping move me in, and my roommate and Ilooked at each other like, "now what?" I will admit I was terrible with communication for the first year; my parents and I had monthly phone calls and the occasional weekly text, but the good news is that it slowly progressed. I know nothing about psychology, but if I had to look back and figure out why I wanted such distance from my parents, I would say it was because I was trying to discover who I really was. The funny thing about that is I have never changed; I was really just trying to like the person I had always been. The first year of college definitely kick started the self-discovery process, but it was not until I moved across the world that I completed the process. 
I did not realize how much I needed and relied on my parents, even in the times we had not talked often, until I moved to Europe. When I decided to study abroad, I went from the weekly conversation to daily conversations overnight. Literally, overnight. I was alone in a new country and busy city, surrounded by a language I did not speak, and all the confidence I had built up went out the door. From 10 hours away (well, roughly 30 if you count layovers and total travel time), my parents helped me get back on my feet and become a world traveler the same way they had sent me to college - by letting me know that everything will work out in the end and that even from a distance, I'll always have them. The point I am trying to make is, the more distance and decision-making responsibility you give your student, the more they will realize that they still need a mentor, and luckily that is you, parents and familes! College friends are great, but having somebody who has been around the block (cough cough, parents or families), is a valuable asset that we sometimes do not realize we still need.  
How I rekindled communication with my parents will not necessarily work for all students, and that is perfectly fine. The important fact is that parents and family members should let their students try to become independent adults before insisting on a loving, long conversation in the middle of a chaotic, college life. Recognizing and accepting that your student is becoming an adult is the first step, but now you are faced with trying to treat them as both a child (which we are at times) and an adult (which we also see ourselves as), which is not easy for either of us! How can you help both their and your transition, specifically regarding communication? Here are a few conversation starter suggestions:  
Step 1: Email them. Students are expected to check their student email every day, so if you send your student a quick note they are probably going to see it! Emails do not need to be formal, as we usually perceive them to be, but can be anything from, "I hope your day is going well. Love you." to "I transferred money into your account." I will say as college students, we prefer the latter email suggestion.   
Step 2: Text them. I do not mean text them every day, maybe not even every week. I know you miss your students and they probably miss you too, but unless you are asking a question, do not get your hopes up for a rapid response back. If I am being honest, you know that we have our phone in our hands 95% of the time; however, as students, we prefer what is tangible and immediately available to us - being at school that includes textbooks, the gym, friends, Netflix or other time passing activities, and sadly not always our family, that is anywhere from an hour to a few days away. Even students that commute from home have college lives, so some physical and emotional separation from them is equally expected. Disclaimer: This is not always the case as some students are significantly better at keeping in touch than others.  
Step 3: Care packages. Speaking of what is tangible, a care package will definitely get you a response. If you have the time and resources to send one, a few suggestions would be their favorite foods, homemade goodies (like brownies - thanks mom), clothes they left at home, an amazon gift card, and maybe even school supplies, since we are full time students here. If a care package is not an option for you, a card will do the trick just as easily. Snail mail shows that you care and miss your students, more than reaching out over electronics ever will.  
Step 4: Call them. In this day and age, phone calls seem to be for emergencies only. If you immediately need to get in contact with your student, send a text first to see if they are available at the moment, and then call. Your student will probably not answer the call (do not take it personally), so leave a voicemail. After your student has listened to your voicemail, they will probably text you back rather than calling you back. I apologize on behalf of our generation, but most of us just do not use phones as an actual phone anymore. 
As a parent or family member of a returning student, you have probably tried a few, if not all of these options, and as a parent or family member of a new student, you have a few years to get creative with your long distance parent/family-child-adult relationship. If none of those four options get you a text back, a singing and dancing telegram will do the trick as a last resort! I am only joking, but hopefully you now have a little more insight into the mind of a college student. Remember, even if communication has digressed slightly during the first year of college, it just means that there is more room for improvement! 

We'd love to hear from you! If you have any questions or would like to provide suggestions on how we can better meet your needs, as a parent and family member, please contact us at: 209-946-7619 or email parentassociation@pacific.edu

Linda Dempsey, Director
New Student & Family Programs