Fordham Families Offer Advice, Resources for Incoming Students
by Jennifer Spencer
On August 28, a new class of students will start their Fordham experience, marking a period of transition for them as well as their families. Upperclass students and their parents shared some of their best advice and the lessons they have learned along the way.
Parents: Let Your Children ‘Jump Out of the Nest and Fly’
As parents send their students off to college, one of the hardest things to do is let them exercise their newfound independence while still being present for them. For one parent, following the advice of the experts helped him strike the balance.
“At orientation, the administration kept telling us to let the kids do this themselves. And that was the correct advice,” said Charlie King, father of Harry, a senior at the Gabelli School of Business, and Archie, who will start college at Fordham this month.
King said there were lessons to learn in letting go, but that allowing his son Harry to have his independence at college has made it work.
“It really goes better when you're aware and not involved—being aware of what they’re trying to achieve, and giving them advice when they ask for it, but let the involvement be driven by your son or daughter.”
Charlie’s wife, Cathy Woods-King, said it was important to them to let their children “jump out of the nest and fly.”
“Neither of my parents had been to college, and couldn’t help me. So I figured it out, and it felt great. And I wanted that for Harry, and I believe it was good for him,” Woods-King said.
While it’s hard for all parents to send their children off to college, for the San Francisco-based McQuillan family, it also meant sending their son Chase, a sophomore at Fordham College at Rose Hill, across the country.
Chase’s mother Deirdre said that while it was challenging to have her only child so far away, she felt confident that he was mature, articulate, and well prepared.
When Chase transferred to Fordham after spending his first semester at another school in the Northeast, she was also pleased he was at a Jesuit school.
“We have the utmost faith in Jesuit teaching and the mantra about giving back to the community,” she said. “Chase was at Fordham about three weeks and started talking about what he would like to do moving forward to give back.”
Seeing that kind of growth and positive reactions from their kids also helped the Kings feel good about their decision.
“When Harry called me up a week or two in, and said, ‘This is the place for me.’ I knew he was out there and integrating himself into the community, that he was making an effort, and knew he would be successful,” said Woods-King.
Eileen Sosa, a Bronx native, said that even though she lived the first 31 years of her life just minutes from the Fordham campus, it was still overwhelming to get to know the college when her eldest daughter Frances started school there last year.
Sosa said the time she invested having daily, intentional conversations with her kids helped keep communication strong when Frances left for college. Technology has helped, too.
“She’ll text me every night to say ‘Good night,’” Sosa said. “I know she’s safe when she does that, and that makes me feel better.”
Students: Try as Many New Things as Possible, In and Out of Your Comfort Zone
For many students, the thought of a new academic challenge may be exciting, but the thought of building a whole new social circle may be a little daunting.
“I’m really excited to get into a whole new classroom with really high caliber teachers,” said Archie King, son of Charlie and Cathy, who starts Fordham this month. “But meeting all new people is always really overwhelming.”
Archie and his fellow incoming freshmen can take the advice of those who have come before them, like Archie’s older brother Harry.
“My biggest advice would be to get involved,” said Harry, who was on the rowing team his first year. “I don't think I got involved enough at Fordham my first year.”
Frances Sosa said that the highlight of her freshman year was being stretched to try things that she never had imagined herself doing—and succeeding at them.
“Academically, I wrote papers I didn’t know I had in me. I joked that I ended up being able to write a paper that is smarter than I am, and when I finally finished it, I was so proud of myself,” Sosa said.
“I was also really shy in high school, so being able to go out and make so many good friends and to come out of my shell, that was a huge highlight of my year,” she said.
Sosa said her key to success in making friends was simply extending her hand and saying hi.
“Everyone’s in the same situation. Don’t be embarrassed to walk up to someone and say, ‘Hi, my name is Frances. What’s your name? What’s your major?’” she said.
When it comes to trying new things, Chase McQuillan encourages incoming students to take advantage of the wide array of classes a liberal arts education includes.
“Take as many classes as you can about topics that you would never learn about ever again,” he said. “There’s a huge wealth of knowledge that a university offers.”
Need Resources at Fordham? ‘Just Ask.’
It takes some time to learn the ropes in any new environment and to uncover the tips that make life easier. Frances Sosa’s biggest piece of advice: “Just ask.”
“Make friends with a resident director or a professor. If that’s too intimidating, find an upperclassman friend, maybe your RA, who can help show you the ropes,” she said.
In addition to asking the right questions, students also discover their own hidden gems. For Chase McQuillan, it was finding a consistent place to hit the books and to be inspired to keep working.
“I do well when I’m more structured, so I found a place in the Walsh Library where it was quiet and went there every afternoon,” he said.
Chase also frequents the stock trading room at the Gabelli School of Business’s Rose Hill home, Hughes Hall. He said he likes to read there for pleasure, as he has an interest in the markets and likes being around the activity of it all.
As he starts his fourth year at Fordham, Harry King has a practical suggestion for incoming students. Find, and frequent, Fordham IT.
“I’ve had my fair share of computer problems. I see a lot of kids having problems and they don’t take advantage of a great resource,” King said.
Support of the Fordham Family in Making the Transition
The transition from high school student to college-age adult will be a process, no doubt, for every student and parent. Kevin McQuillan said that for his family, it helped to know that his son’s university cared about his well-being.
“At most schools you're kind of just a number. But at Fordham, they care about you, not just about what you do at the end of your four years,” he said.
Between the foundation she knew she had given her sons and the supportive environment they were entering, Cathy Woods-King said she was confident to let her kids fly.
“Fordham’s a wonderful place for them to be testing their wings,” she said.