Hillsdale College’s Parents’ Weekend is a crucial celebration of the relationship between a college student and his parents. Entirely devoted to the adults responsible for their adult children, the weekend is punctuated by the familiarity of home that parents provide — without the free laundry. Additionally, it is a way to authentically introduce parents to their child’s world, all 400 acres of it.
The wine and cheese mixer is an accurate picture of the place every parent’s son or daughter accidentally referred to as “home,” seemingly too early during freshman year. As parents consume warm Kroger Cabernet and cheese as orange as the leaves outside, one thing becomes apparent: the donations from last parents weekend did not go to catering spread. But more than that, mom and dad realize they are being — appropriately — phased out as their children’s primary caregivers.
Aristotle once said: “teachers, who educate children, deserve more honor than parents, who merely gave them birth, for the latter provided mere life, while the former ensure a good life.”
Parents’ Weekend proves more than anything this sentiment to be true, primarily through parent/teacher conferences. The subject-oriented, blind date between parent and professor is the perfect no-pressure introduction to classroom life for mom and dad. The informal, concisely timed 10-minute appointment perfectly emulates a casual, carefree conversation a parent would organically have with their grown son or daughter’s professor. Punctuated by the tapping pencils of professors restlessly willing these not-at-all forced Saturday morning interactions to fly by, parent-teacher conferences are the perfect way for the whole family — and faculty — to abolish their peaceful sleep-in day. Often giving birth to a mini-lecture on each professor’s respective field, these miniature meetings allow parents to feel at ease about what they’ve spent the last 18 plus years worrying about: the significance of Catholic doctrine in “Dante’s Inferno.” Mom and dad leave these conferences feeling confident that they sent their children to a college with heavier parental involvement than most middle schools, and that their children’s minds are being molded by capable — likely fidgety — hands.
Those behind the design of Parents’ Weekend thought of everything., including sparsely posted, and confusingly timed, bookstore hours. Created to ensure at least three fruitless trips to the bookstore between Friday and Sunday, the irregular bookstore hours are the best way to make sure your mom cannot spend money on the “Hillsdale College Mom” sweatshirt she so covets. The bookstore hours are not the only flawless aspect of this three-day carnival of quality time; Parents’ Weekend brunch is quintessential.
Parents’ Weekend brunch in the cafeteria is as charming as it is representative of campus life. From the completely natural conversations with the junior in your baby bio class whose name you forgot but whose parents you sat next to, to the lunchtime donation plea from Dr. Arnn, this meal will give your parents the real Hillsdale experience. French toast and intricate place settings will have your mom cooing how lucky you are to eat like this every day and will have you nervously laughing, unsure whether to tell her how much you miss her Hamburger Helper- inspired cuisine. Uproarious political talk from a room so like-minded it makes the droids in the Star Wars franchise seem idiosyncratic, will appease your father as he chuckles and comments loudly on how you need to marry the son of the politically compatible stranger he just met. However, the parent’s weekend brunch is not the only food related festivity that makes this weekend as special as it is wholly representative of campus life.
After a silent Saturday night of the usual in-dorm board games and 10 p.m. bedtime, Parents’ Weekend tradition dictates a nice Sunday morning post-church brunch somewhere in town. The bustling metropolis of Hillsdale, Michigan, offers three diverse and delicious options: The Coffee Cup Diner, The Palace Diner, and The Finish Line Diner. These three culinary institutions beckon your family, but their limited seating and tripled customer base will prevent you from eating without an hour to be seated. While you wait to be seated, however, your family can always check out the bookstore!
Ultimately, Parents’ Weekend is the perfect way to share the wonderful world of Hillsdale with your mom and dad. From the seemingly endless schedule of college run events to the even greater abyss of down time during which your parents ask “so, what is there to do around here?” It is truly a celebration of family, faculty, and an alarming lack of home-cooked food. Most importantly, it reminds us all that parents are temporary, but college is forever.