This past weekend students and I attended a Student Government Association (SGA) conference in New Hampshire. We met with representatives from other colleges, exchanged ideas and discussed issues affecting our campuses. Despite being the smallest college attending this conference, our students walked away with a greater appreciation for their school and discussed it on our way home.
While they may not always enjoy the food on campus, they realized that many other colleges do not offer the number of meal plans, variety, or conveniences we enjoy. They made note of how easy it is for our students to meet with faculty one-on-one, compared to larger schools. Members of other SGA organizations were impressed that our college president actually takes the time to meet with our group on a regular basis.
Sometimes we tend to think that young people are not as appreciative as they should be today. We hear a lot of talk about the “millennial generation” or “generation Y” and how they take everything for granted. While this may be true for some, I haven’t found it to be true for most.
Our bus drivers who daily transport students up and down the hill to the Mansion or the Healthcare Education Center downtown often share how polite our students are – always saying “Good Morning” and “Thank you”. During our trip to New Hampshire, the SGA students repeatedly thanked me for taking the time to advise the trip and stopping for dinner on the way home.
While many young people might seem self-involved, we see the positive and appreciative person their parents and families have raised. In conversations with students, we hear how much they understand the sacrifices their families have made to send them to college. When we ask students what they fear most about failing, they share it’s the fear of disappointing their family. This appreciation is what fuels them to work hard and seek success.
As your students return home for the various holidays this time of year, please know – whether they share it or not – that they are thankful for this opportunity to attend college. It might be hidden within bags of laundry or imbedded somewhere in their numerous stories they’ll share, but it is there.