by Kimberly Bytwerk, M.A.
College is a time of transition, not just for the students, but for their families as well. In transitioning to college here's three things your son or daughter can look forward to at Cornerstone in their upcoming transition:
1. Cornerstone student life is highly relational. I commit every year to know the names of each of the students in my residence hall two weeks after their arrival. That's about 150 names and faces. Cornerstone is a place where you are known.
2. We are also intentional. We organize programs for our students to have fun, but they also have a purpose. We intentionally build our programming to help students get to know their fellow students and build community quickly.
3. Lastly, depth. We organize programs within the residence halls and commuter program to help develop students growth into mature followers of Christ who wrestle wisely with difficult issues going on in their lives as well as the world around them.
Ways to support your student
Transitions are exciting, but by nature are also often difficult. Here's some things you can do to help your son or daughter transition:
- If your son or daughter is living on campus, don't allow them to come home for at least the first month. For some, this may not be an option depending on your distance from the school. But for those who live close, your student will likely both enjoy the transition but also struggle at points and want to come home to what’s familiar. But every year my students in the hall who struggle to fit in the most, are the ones who spend more weekends at home than they did at college.
If your son or daughter is commuting, encourage them to stay on campus particularly in the beginning of the year. They have seven nights each semester they can stay on campus, and I'd encourage them to use every one of them.
- Talk about the transition. Not only does your son or daughter want you to know how the transition is going, but there will likely be two areas of the transition that will likely cause friction when your son/daughter comes home on breaks: freedom & responsibility.
In my years working in student life, these have been the most frequent areas of tension I have heard from my students in their transition. Some of that tension may be avoided by having an intentional conversation ahead of time. Talk with your son or daughter about what you see changing in the areas of freedom when they come home on breaks (curfew, time with friends, activities outside the home etc.). Then responsibility (paying the phone bill, car insurance, etc.).
There's no way to know all the ways your child and family will transition, but brainstorming ideas and having an adult to adult negotiation before they leave can help prevent some of the tension. Your agreement is obviously subject to change over time but it will open the door to discuss it further later on.
- Support and encourage growth. Growing pains are real, and not just physically. Your student will likely experience growing pains intellectually, relationally, spiritually and emotionally. They will value from your support as well as your encouragement towards independence.
Being a Resident Director, I struggle watching my students struggle. I would rather quickly take away their roommate conflict or academic struggles. I want my students to be happy. I want them to enjoy their experience. But what I've realized is more important at times is for them to grow in wisdom and maturity.
The catch is, as you may know, that wisdom often does not develop in "ease and quiet." It's through the difficulties that we grow the most in life. I encourage you to ask a question I have to ask myself "would my student grow more by my stepping in, or stepping out of this situation?"
I've been so proud of my students as they have endured difficult times and grown into wiser and more mature adults over their student years. I beam as I see them walk across the stage at graduation and know how much they've grown over their time at Cornerstone. I'm sure you'll be proud of your son or daughter as you see them grow as well.
Our Community is Praying for You
We are so excited to welcome your son or daughter here at Cornerstone. We recognize that you have invested heavily into your child and we don't take that lightly. Pray for our student life staff as we seek to come along side your son or daughter in their college transition and I pray that the Lord would guide, comfort and strengthen your family in your upcoming transition.