‘Do You Know What’s Going to Happen?’ At Move-In, We Made Sure They Did
By Dave Smith
College of Education
Last Thursday and Friday, I had the opportunity to hang out on the parking lot with several thousand of my favorite cars – those carrying new GCU students and their parents as they arrived on campus for Move-In Day.
Whether it was Hegel, Canyon or the North Rim Apartments on Thursday, or filling up the brand-new Sedona and Camelback dorms on Friday, it was a constant pull to get the cars through the never-ending lines and up to the front of the residence halls.
And yes, it was about the newly arriving students, but I found that the parents were just as uncertain about what to expect and, more importantly, what was going to happen when they finally made it to the front of the line. And so, for the 30 to 60 seconds I had with them, I did my best to let them know that everything – while chaotic – was going to be fine.
“Has anyone told you what to expect when you get to the front of the line?” I asked.
The varying looks of bewilderment told me the answer without words being spoken. Spying the new student in the back of the SUV, I’d ask, “Do you know your room number?” Ninety percent did, so I told them they had just passed their first test at college.
The parents found that funny and, in a weird way, reassuring.
“So, here’s the scoop,” I’d tell the parents. “See those folks up ahead in the turquoise shirts? Well, when you get up there, a horde of them are going to descend on your vehicle and pick it clean like a pack of vultures.”
This was maybe not the best image, but it was the best I had at the time.
Usually looking at the dad, I said, “And you know the best part? That room number your student is going to give them? Those turquoise-clad folks are going to lug it all up to the dorm for you. No lugging today for you, Dad. Now, if there’s something in the vehicle that needs to be put together, that’s probably up to you!”
For the most part, parents took it all in and said something about how good that sounded. You could tell the ones who had lugged luggage before — or remembered doing it for themselves years ago. Their look was one of being dumbfounded. But I passed them on, with a smile on my face, scanning the vehicles for my next delivery.
But it didn’t end there. Quite a number of times – perhaps two dozen or so – I’d see a parent walking toward the Arena later in the day. And I’d look at them, and say, “Didn’t I talk to you in line?” After an affirmative response, we’d chat about their experiences, and they were unanimously positive.
The best interaction, though, was with a father I saw for the second time on Friday before convocation. This time, I was not in shorts, T-shirt and a neon-green parking vest. I was in slacks and a button-down shirt – and yet he broke away from his family to come over and shake my hand and thank me for the experience that he and his family had had at GCU.
It made the heat and sweat worth it. It’s why we’re here.