Dramatic shot of entrance to Northrup Hall

by Leslie Wan —

From the moment my daughter, Christina, was born, we placed her on a college trajectory. When she was young, it was just a thought. “One day she will go.” Then came the related thoughts – “Where would she go? What would she study? Will she work hard to get a scholarship?”

As high school progressed and her time home came closer to an end, she did all the pre-college applications. We both conducted research and went through all kinds of college options. She made her decision to attend Trinity University. We had visited it, spoken to department chairs, admissions, students, and experienced the city – the whole enchilada. After all that, we both loved it and knew it was the perfect fit for her.

Fast forward to move-in time, to leave her there and go back home. Wait, what? Noooo, she isn't ready. More to the point, I was not ready! Ah, but of course, now came reality. Before, the idea of college had been just a dream. But now I had all the thoughts that we as parents worry about – safety, homesickness, sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

Leslie and Christina Wan
Leslie and Christina Wan

I gave great thought to the last words of wisdom I needed to give her before I left her to start her future. In the end my words were very simple. "Don't waste our hard earned college money and don't forget the values we taught you!" Really that pretty much says it all, doesn't it? I didn't even get the eye roll for that one! All we had taught her, all we had prepared her for, all she had worked for, was remembered. They do remember what you’ve taught them.

It's up to you to have faith that your lessons are inside them and that they understand that while it's fun, it counts! Hiccups along the way, sure there probably will be, but resources and opportunities abound at Trinity to counter that. Let them go, celebrate the new journey with them and believe in them. OK, I will forever have one eye open in her direction, but that is the definition of motherhood, no matter their age, isn't it? I learned through the Trinity days that she was going to take my dream from her "baby days" and make it her own.

About Leslie

As a mother, Leslie embraced her passion of working with and for children and supporting her daughter's academic endeavors. She spent her “free time” on a scholarship board, charitable speaking events, and working with a food pantry. To enjoy quality time and teach the value of community service to her then-teenaged daughter, they volunteered at a school for special needs children. A 2010 graduate from Trinity, daughter Christina now works as a university student administration professional, and Leslie continues to pursue special needs work and her passion for personal/professional writing and public speaking. She writes a blog (http://thestepcentre.blogspot.com/), and speaks and volunteers in support of the special needs community in Jamaica.

by David M. Tuttle —

I recently heard someone talk somewhat disparagingly about the concept of "fit" regarding students and colleges. I think the point was, that as with relationships, there can be many "fits," and there isn't a magical mythical place. I think the other point was that school is school: Go. Learn. Graduate. Work.

I have sent three kids to college. They each chose different places and the overarching factor, for them, was fit, or where they could see themselves. There are many great choices out there and it is a bonus to find a place where students have some shared values and styles (though diversity is important!

Dean Tuttle runs the Rock 'n Roll Marathon 2015
Tuttle reaches out to Trinity students at the San Antonio Rock 'n Roll Marathon 2015.
The first task is to make the list of choices manageable. First, does a school offer a degree program of interest. At schools like Trinity, we encourage students to explore before finalizing a major. However, a student set on a nursing program shouldn't come here as we don't have that.

Second, prospective students should consider geography, distance from home, and proximity to friends. Sometimes it is easier for students who are far away. Students at Trinity are sometimes drawn to visit, too often , their pack of friends who went en masse to a state school.

And finally, the size of the school matters. If students come here bemoaning that it is smaller than their high schools, then that will be an issue if they don't like that. Often we think of the size of a school in relation to big-time sports. That can be a huge factor for some. But for the cost of education, a better factor is learning style. In other words, will a student thrive in a lecture-oriented environment or a more hands-on discussion-based environment.

Then the issue of fit can be the difference-maker between like schools. Students at Trinity are laid-back, bright, clever, supportive, and fun. They aren't competitive with one another. Students who like it here want to be engaged and immersed in the experience, not apart from it. They understand that if they start to struggle, those who notice will reach out to them. That is what you get when you get us.

Dean Tuttle at the Turkey Trot
Dean Tuttle at the Turkey Trot with his dog & Leeroy the tiger
I caution people about letting factors like tour guides or weather during visits color the whole perception of the campus. Spending time on campus, approaching people to ask what it is like there, and watching how people interact can't be found on a Web page.

After the first semester some students across the nation second-guess themselves. The honeymoon ends, the work is hard, and it turns out the roommate isn't going to be in the wedding party. By the spring that usually changes, and most students find their groove. Most figure out that they were right all along. Their intuition was right: they fit.

About David

David M. Tuttle is an associate vice president and Dean of Students at Trinity University. You can read his blog, The Dean's List, here.

by Fran Wahl —

David Tuttle, dean of Students at Trinity University, would probably be shocked to learn that I keep him in my back pocket at all times. And that's not the only place I keep him secreted away. Sometimes he's in my handbag or in the cup holder of my car. Yes, you guessed it, he is accessible to me anywhere I keep my smart phone. Anytime, day or night. I can access his blog online (optimistically titled "The Dean's List") as well as a myriad of other electronic communications that keep me in tuned with what is going down on Trinity's campus.

Fran Wahl & daughter Mariah Wahl
Trinity University casts a broad electronic net to corral a wide and varied parent population. Dean Tuttle's blog is most easily found by subscribing to the TrinitE parent Newsletter. There you will read the latest email alerts sent to your students, career counseling information, and one of my favorites, Student Health 101. Access this web based magazine for tips on diet and exercise, study skills, anything that affects your student's physical and mental well being. Try this conversation starter: "Did you see that last article on myths about condom usage in the Health 101 web magazine? Fascinating read!" Maybe that's pushing it, but you get the idea.

Dean Tuttle is an excellent parent resource, both in person and online.
On the serious side, this is the same place you will find the latest safety information, should there be an on-campus incident of any kind. It's nice the know that an email will show up quickly and frequently to keep parents in tuned with all the campus goings on.

Have a question about getting your student a ride to or from campus? Like the Facebook page TU Parents and find yourself tied into the most honest, caring and informative group of folks on the planet! Car repairs, doctor referrals, you name it. This is virtually the Angie's List of student friendly products and services. As an added bonus, you could make a friend to meet up with at the next Parent's Weekend. Angie's List can't touch that.

Though they are not parent specific, Instagram and Twitter provide the most instant gratification, allowing quick snapshots of campus life, highlighting sports, the arts and community events that affect TU students. When searching these two social media platforms, Trinity related titles are literally endless.

Whatever your communication style, Trinity has something for you. You can be as informed or as distant as you would like! Dean Tuttle can take comfort in knowing that his most aggressive stalker (now not so anonymous) lives a good thousand miles away from campus. I take comfort in the fact that I am never more than a click or two away.

Stay in the know with Trinity's 24/7 online resources.

About Fran

Having turned the term "domestic engineer" into a full time profession, Fran Wahl has experienced sending two of three children off to Universities. She frequently lobbies to have one of them choose real engineering as a major. In her spare time she volunteers in the local schools, and works as a substitute teacher. She also enjoys surfing the Internet.

by Susie P. Gonzalez —

Family photo at Trinity

My oldest son was still a newborn when his father leap-frogged over teething, potty-training, and driving lessons to bring up the subject of college. Where would our bundle of joy go, what would he study, and how on earth would we pay for it?

If you’re a parent, you’ve confronted all of these questions – from dealing with toddler issues to financing a college education. Maybe, while searching for the answers, you’ve reached out to other parents for help. Trusted peers. Seasoned vets. And possibly other parents who are curiosity seekers. Since children do not come with instruction manuals, other parents can function as teachers and guides.

That’s why the Trinity Parent Perspective was born – to help answer some of the questions that drive parents of college-bound and college-aged students slightly crazy. We are assembling a writing team of parents whose children have attended or are currently enrolled in Trinity, or those who love Trinity and know a thing or two about college life.

We hope to tackle topics such as:
  • How can parents stay abreast of campus events?
  • How do I decide if my child’s choice is a good fit?
  • I am a professor: Can I co-exist with my daughter as a student? 
  • Help! My student wants to “go Greek” – should I worry?
  • Should I be concerned if my student also wants to be an athlete? 
Some of these questions have been in my family conversations, since I have sent three children to college, including one who graduated from Trinity in 2008 (#TigerPride). He is the one who started me on that long journey of helping my students prepare for college, choose the right school, succeed despite all manner of distractions, and ultimately, graduate into a job in what all of us lovingly call “the real world.”

I will serve as editor of the blog and invite submissions from parent writers. Just message me at the email address below to start a conversation as parents about something we all love – Trinity University and student success.

About Susie

Susie P. Gonzalez, senior manager of public relations at Trinity, can be reached at susie.gonzalez@trinity.edu or @susiegonz.