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Parent Newsletter

As Told By Teryn: Coming to a Close

April 2016

by Teryn Stewart

At this point in the school year, midterm exams are over and we, as students, are eagerly awaiting the end of the semester. We have gotten through most of the year without a problem, and probably had a lot of fun over spring break too! Currently, we are excited and stressed about the rapidly approaching finals week and the plans we have (yet to make) for this summer, but parents are most likely experiencing the same emotions for different reasons, such as us students coming home and how we will navigate the parent-student relationship for three whole months. I know I have talked about the parent-student relationship before, and key talking points, but the factor I really want to drive home is conversation at the adult level. We all have probably noticed that technology has taken over in the past few years; however, when we are home, we want to communicate on your level. Most of us do not want 'selfies' in front of important landmarks, or even at home, but we do want to have meaningful and insightful conversations about how our world is changing as we mature.

   ·      DO: Schedule a time to spend with us, your students, and become friends with the independent adults we are becoming.

·      DON'T: Assume we have not changed in the past year.  

We as young adults are in a state of constant change. Our taste in music, our plans for the future, even our friends are never set in stone. Though it can be happy to have us home, be prepared that this summer may be vastly different from any other summer break, even for upperclassmen! The most important piece of advice I can give is to not expect our attendance at events you have planned, without asking us first. If you are anything like my mom, your summer is already packed with family vacations and events that you are so excited to attend, but we as students may have a schedule of our own that we are equally as excited about.            

Do not get me wrong, we are very thankful that you do include us in your plans and that you love us enough to consider us, but sometimes our plans are simply more important.  As a student, I can assure you that my need to get an internship this summer, which will help me get into graduate school, is necessary. Students are reminded daily by professors and mentors that graduate school and applying for jobs is extremely competitive, and that we need to be proactive. Summer break is often the only time we can do field work or research during the year, as that is the only time we are not actively studying for a class. It is nothing against our parents, but school, even during summer, comes first.            

However, what if your student does not get a job and still does not want to join in the plans you have made? I am not one to judge in that situation as I usually do hang out with my parents when nothing else is going on, but I am willing to bet that your student has done a fairly good job taking care of him or herself for the past nine months, and can do so for three more. Just because your student does not want to attend a seemingly overwhelming family event, does not mean that they do not want to spend meaningful time with you! Remember, we appreciate the home cooked meals and quality time, but we will not be home much longer, and trust me that thought scares us more than it scares you.

Love us, cherish us and let us try to become independent adults before we truly have to be, and have a relaxing summer! 

As Told By Teryn: Talking Points

February 2016

by Teryn Stewart

It still surprises me how quickly a semester flies by. Freshman year seems like yesterday, but I have learned so much since then! I understand I am only a Junior and still l have a lifetime of knowledge to collect, but I feel the need to share and emphasize what has helped me be more successful in my short college years, and the talking points to go along with those crucial learning experiences.

For parents of freshmen, after the first semester of college, many students have a much better idea of what they want to do professionally. Either your student loved the classes for their major, or they loved that one random General Education requirement and now want to switch majors! First semester brings so many "Ah-ha!" moments, so be sure to talk to your student about the future and what his or her options are in the coming months. If your student needs a few more semesters to decide what his or her major should be, that is also normal and ok! It is a huge decision to make, and one they do not want to regret, so give your student time to reflect on classes and possible career paths.

Returning students and upperclassmen are also now taking mostly major-based classes, which I will say is very overwhelming and stressful. At this point in college, juniors and seniors have reached the point of no return when it comes to graduating on time with our chosen major, so parents, ask your students if they are still happy with their intended career path. I know I am constantly stressed out about Graduate School and finding a job, so I am sure other students are too. Offer personal advice and stories, but be sure not to lecture your students, they already have received more than a semesters worth of those!

Asking about school is a good initial talking point, but from there what are other helpful conversation starters? Well, with college come many opportunities. One in five students at Pacific are involved in Greek Life, which include the Panhellenic Council, Interfraternity Council, Multicultural Greek Council and Professional Fraternities. Students are able to join one Professional and Social Greek organization, so if your student is not currently involved in both, ask if they have considered it. Pacific is a small school, so getting involved on campus helps students feel even more at home and connected with other students on a deeper level! Personally, I can tell you that going greek was one of my best decisions of college!

Another great way to get involved at pacific is to get an on-campus job! Ask your student if they are interested in making money, and expect yes to be the answer. Then talk to your student about the benefits of having an on campus job. I can tell you that I would much rather be employed by Pacific than any off campus facility, because Pacific understands that we are students first and that our education is our top priority. Students can also be employed with work-study if they qualify!

Has your student looked into any internships or jobs for the summer? Spring semester will fly by even faster than fall semester did, so ask your student if they want to get a summer internship or job. It is much easier to research companies and start applying for jobs before the semester picks up. If your student is considering graduate school, volunteer work and internships are great ways to get much needed work experience, which schools expect students to have. Pacific has an amazing Career Resource Center that can helps students with finding internships, as well resume help and interview practice!

To top it off, my most influential months of college were those that I was not in the country. Has your student considered studying abroad? Study abroad opportunities are available in most countries around the world, and there is no better way to learn about culture and history than from first hand experience. Encourage your student to travel and see the world while it is paid through tuition!

If you have other great conversation points, be sure to share those with other parents in the University of the Pacific Parents Facebook page! Let us make this semester a great one, and encourage your students to get involved!


As Told By Teryn: Holiday Transportation

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! :)


As Told By Teryn: Communication

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