Dear Parent or Guardian:
Welcome to the CIA community! This is such an exciting time for you and your student as one chapter closes and another opens. This coming year will be yet another step on the road to achieving their personal and professional goals. I hope that you will consider us partners as we help, support, encourage, cajole, and otherwise accompany your student along this road. As you read my comments, please realize that while I might not describe your particular situation, I think you’ll understand the gist of my intent.
First thing is first, it’s all about you! Things will change around your home once your student begins classes. This might be especially true if they are the first or in my case (the last!) of your offspring going away to college. And if your student is still living at home and commuting, their role within your family will change. In all cases, there will likely be a sense of a lost presence on a daily basis. Younger siblings may react in a variety of ways, and you may have an opportunity to change your relationship with your student. Give them a chance to reach out to you and talk about what they are experiencing. Sometimes listening is so much more important than talking.
Help them discover how they can meet any new challenges rather than give them the answers. Your home is likely still “home base” for them. They are becoming different and need your understanding as they evolve. Give them a safe haven that’s familiar.
Now, about the students! Studying art is all encompassing with long days and late nights. They will spend a lot of time figuring out how to manage their time with classes, studying, and homework. Of course, they will also make new friends, eat, for some do laundry or learn how to do it, explore, and have some fun! The balance is a challenging task for some and easier for others.
You may get the phone call that includes “Everyone here is better than I am” or “Maybe I’ve made a mistake coming here.” I’ve been in higher education for 31 years and have heard that at every institution at which I’ve worked. Your progeny was recognized as having the talent to do well here, and that’s why they were admitted. They are now in an environment where everyone has the same or higher level of artistic ability. They can do it! If it were easy, everyone would be here, but they’re not. Starting out at a new place in a field where there are regular critiques of the work is tough. But we “know our breed of cat” so to speak, and we are here to help them maintain their confidence and keep them in the game. The Foundation faculty have years of experience in helping students adjust and we work closely with them.
Encourage your student to find someone on campus with whom they feel comfortable. We in Student Affairs spend our days (and sometimes evenings) listening, boosting, caring, supporting, and sometimes just sitting with students. We’re a small school and use this to our advantage in that we work hard to ensure that students don’t fall through the cracks. We have many safety nets, so suggest that they not brave it alone to prove a point, but rather reach out for assistance. That’s why we are here.
I encourage you to have a good conversation with your student well before they are all packed and ready to arrive on campus. Let them know your expectations and concerns, listen to theirs, and try to come to some common understandings. This could avoid some surprises later.
I hope that this sharing was helpful. If you were already aware of these issues, all the better. If some were new, I hope that my comments will be helpful as the year unfolds. The bottom line is that we care about your student as a person and as an artist, and will do what we can to help them adjust and thrive at CIA.
I welcome your thoughts.
Enjoy the summer, and I’ll look forward to meeting you at the August Orientation program.
Jesse Grant, PhD