For many students, beginning college is the first time when you feel truly independent from your parents. After a couple of months at school, you have established your routine, your friends, and your life without your parents looking over your shoulder watching your every move. Thus, a freshman’s first parents’ weekend can be a strange time in your college career. Eager parents are thrilled to come and visit so they can finally get a sense of what your life is really like. This can make parents’ weekend a stressful time as you try to ensure that everything is up to your parents’ standards. That way they can return home and sleep soundly knowing that yes, you have made friends, are passing your classes (barely) and are eating well (sure).
Stage 1: The preparation
First things first, clean your room. Your parents don’t have to know that you haven’t done this since they were last on campus for move-in day. They’ll probably see right through you, but for everyone’s sake, let’s just pretend that you haven’t been living like an absolute slob for the past few months.
Next, plan some activities. The last thing you want to do is have your parents just sitting in your room staring at you for the entire weekend. Take them on a tour of campus, go explore downtown Ithaca (maybe get them to take you to the grocery store and buy treats) and stop at all your favorite spots to eat so they can really get a feel for how you spend your time.
Stage 2: The arrival
No matter how much you are dreading having to entertain your parents all weekend (not to mention any younger siblings that happen to be tagging along), seeing your family will be exciting– at least initially. Even if you haven’t given much thought to your parents during your first busy few months at college, you will realize how much you missed them as soon as you see them on campus. After all, they do say distance makes the heart grow fonder. Go, run to them and give them a huge hug. It will feel great.
Stage 3: The ‘get out of my hair stage’
Yes, the initial excitement has worn off. Yes, you realized you did not plan enough activities to do. You have been reminded by just how embarrassing parents can be when they stop to talk with everyone you are remotely acquainted with ranging from hall mates you have meet twice to that one kid in your Psychology class. You have taken them to the campus store. You have stopped to gawk at the clocktower, the gorges–“yes, they are beautiful, I know, can we go? People are staring–” and everything in between. Yes, they have grilled you on everything that has happened in your life since they left you. And yes, it’s only Saturday.
Take a deep breath, relax. Remember, they are doing this out of a place of love. They really missed you and just want to ensure that Cornell is fulfilling all your hopes and dreams. If you feel like you are going to collapse if they ask you one more question, turn the attention on them and ask how things have been going at home. “How has grandma been? What have you been doing on the weekends? Do you have any plans for Halloween?”
Stage 4: The goodbye
The goodbye will turn everything around again. While it may have been a little difficult to manage your parents and their undivided attention for a solid 48 hours, you will probably be glad they came, and it is nice to be reminded just how much they love you. Don’t worry– it won’t be long until you’re reunited on Thanksgiving.