Faculty member reflects on becoming the parent of a college student

Aug 29, 2019

Students aren’t the only ones who start college feeling scared, excited, stressed and ready for fun all at the same time.

Parents can have those same feelings as they send their kids off to college, especially after working hard to prepare them for the next step in life.

Matthew Umbarger, Ph.D., has a unique perspective as both the parent of an entering student, Hadassah, and as a professor at Newman.

Through a Q&A, Umbarger explained what he and his wife did to prepare their daughter for college and for the future in general. 

Q: What have you done to help your student prepare?

A: We tried to make learning fun and not a chore. [We] try not to put big, heavy expectations on her and let her chase after her own interests.

Q: What was your college experience and how did you relate it to her?

A: My wife and I met in Bible college and it was very fundamentalist; there was not a lot of opportunity for intellectual freedom. … I benefited from it, [and] I’m grateful for what I received there, but compared to here it was a very different atmosphere. … Truth is proposed, it’s never imposed and that’s one of the things I like about Newman. I’m free and encouraged to have intellectual query. … I think that’s good for her. She will have professors who do not share her worldview, and I think that’s wonderful. She’s going to be exposed to people who think very differently than she does, and hopefully, that will enrich her life.

Q: What advice do you have for your student?

A: I’m trying to tell her she should be excited about being in the Honors Program and meeting other students who care about learning as much as she does.

Q: What do you think your student will find most exciting?

A: I think she’s most excited about being able to throw herself into these things that she loves, and having someone guide her into thinking about them and writing about them and processing them.