UMW Parent and Family eNews recently sat down with Kim Miller, mother of UMW junior Megan Miller, to talk about parenting through the college journey.
How did Megan choose Mary Washington?
Kim: Mary Washington was not even on Megan’s radar until a neighbor, whose son was a junior at the time, told her she should check it out. He even set up a meeting with Dean [of Student Life Cedric] Rucker. We went on a campus tour over spring break — her very first college tour — and I was thinking, ‘This is the place Megan needs to be.’ But of course I couldn’t tell Megan that! We were sitting on a bench afterward, and everyone who walked by said hi. I think the meeting with Dean Rucker really clinched it for Megan, although she didn’t say it then.
We did three more tours that week and three more over the summer so Megan could get a taste of both large and small, public and private universities. In August she decided that Mary Washington was where she wanted to be, and she applied early decision. She got her acceptance in November and was thrilled. It just felt right; she didn’t click in the same way with any of the other schools she toured.
How has Megan’s experience as a UMW student compared to her expectations?
Kim: She has had some ups and downs, just as every student does, but she still feels like Mary Washington is the right place for her. The community feel, diversity of the student body, size, location, and friendliness of everyone on campus are the key things she appreciates about UMW.
Megan loves living in an on-campus apartment this year, especially the freedom of preparing meals in her own kitchen. She also loves serving as a Washington Guide (admissions tour guide) and has enjoyed participating in programs offered by the James Farmer Multicultural Center, including RISE Peer Mentoring and Jewish Student Association events.
What is Megan planning to study?
Kim: She knew from the start that she wanted to study psychology, and UMW’s strong psychology program was a selling point. Thanks to college credits earned in high school, she was technically a sophomore by her second semester and was able to declare her major in January. She has enjoyed becoming more involved with the Psychology department this year. During the recent hiring process for a new professor, the department asked students to evaluate candidates’ lectures. Megan appreciated the experience and was impressed that students were so actively involved. She plans to graduate a year early, in 2021, and go on to graduate school.
What has been your greatest challenge as a college parent? Your greatest joy?
Kim: Sometimes I feel like Megan is missing out on opportunities because there are so many opportunities and I want her to take advantage of all of them. But I can’t live her life. I can send little reminders, but ultimately she has to make the decision. It’s my belief that, especially in college, you should do everything you can. Even if you’re not thoroughly interested in something, you should do it because you never know what you’re going to get out of it.
My greatest joy is seeing how well she has adapted to college life and dorm life. Even though I find myself hoping she would step out of her comfort zone more often, I realize that she really has branched out and opened herself up to many new experiences. And she’s done all of it without me saying, “Go do this.” I love the fact that she became a tour guide; it’s a great experience that will serve her well, personally and professionally.
Do you have a Mary Washington memory that stands out for you as a parent?
Kim: When we came to campus for Orientation, the police chief [Michael Hall] personally greeted every family as they pulled up. It made me feel like the people at UMW are going to do everything they can to make sure their students are safe and happy. That one gesture really illustrated the way the whole campus feels.
What’s your best advice for other parents of college students?
Kim: Be supportive of the decisions your child makes, even if they may not be the ones that you would make. They have to figure it out; that’s what this part of life is about.
Midlothian residents Kim and Martin Miller are members of UMW’s Parent Leadership Circle. To learn more about the Parent Leadership Circle, please contact Beth Hunsinger at email@example.com or 540-654-2068.