Parents Weekend is a tradition at almost every college, if not all of them. There is one weekend a year devoted to college students sharing their experience with their parents and family members; showing them around campus, their favorite spots in town and introducing them to their friends are all essential parts to this monumental weekend.
However, not all students get to share these experiences with their parents. Some students wander around on this weekend watching peers share these great moments, creating memories with their parents while watching from afar.
There are many reasons why parents might not visit during this designated weekend. Sometimes it’s just the fact that campus is too hectic for some families and they’d rather visit later in the year. Despite there being no ill intent on their part, the first year students whose parents don’t make it to the parents weekend feel a sense of missing out or just homesickness.
Many first years were seen on parents weekend walking around campus with their parents, siblings and grandparents in some cases. Their whole families wanted to get involved on this special weekend. Without a parent during this weekend, students grasp onto any opportunity they can to participate with other families on campus. My parents chose not to visit during parents weekend, so for me, I have never really experienced having a designated time where my parents are welcomed by both the SLO community and my friends. Watching the first years share these moments with their families stirs jealousy and longing. Parentless students, including myself, just want to share our new world with those who love us.
It may be embarrassing for some to have parents and younger siblings following you around everywhere, but there is much appreciation for those who join in on this tradition. Being able to share the new community we find ourselves in is an extraordinary experience that reconnects us students to family. Students get to share so much with those who love them, and not just over FaceTime and texting.
As students get older, parents are less likely to visit during parents weekend, especially if they did so the first year or two. Being able to share this weekend with your first year means parental worries or concerns are put at ease — I’ve seen the magical lift in spirits in real life. Some of us missed out on this important first-year tradition with our parents because of the pandemic. It’s not easy watching current first years walk campus with their parents knowing we missed out on this tradition two years ago.
Even though students might not have their parents for this designated weekend, some make their appearances throughout the fall quarter during other weekends to avoid the crowds. On these weekends, there is almost a more intimate connection with the student, their friends and their family that has come to experience their new world, their new persona.
But, some students go without parents visiting all year; these students miss out on the excitement of introducing friends to family. They have to watch as all their friend’s families take time to visit them, while their own families aren’t able to visit at all. For them, parents weekends might be more difficult to experience as other students walk campus with their family.
What is important about parents visiting is that students who have just begun a new phase in their lives get to share this new world with those they love. For those who are having a difficult time adjusting, or just missing home a little more than most, having parents be a part of the college experience by visiting could mean a smoother transition into this new phase of life.
Everyone wants to be able to share these new experiences, new loves and new discoveries with those who have been their support since the beginning of their lives — their family. What’s most important about parents weekend is giving this exact opportunity, but it doesn’t mean this is the only weekend that these magical moments can take place. If parents weekend isn’t an option for some families, just being here with your student on any weekend would mean the world to them. Students just want to share this new journey they’ve embarked upon, so visit throughout the year and be immersed in Cal Poly life.
Some students might be parentless on parents weekend, but those essential weekends of sharing our new selves doesn’t have to be confined to one weekend designated by the school. So, even though it might feel like we are missing out on our parents not joining during the one designated weekend of the year, they are still wanting to be shown the new memories and friends we have created here on campus.