‘Deerfield 101’ for New Parents

When asked to write a brief piece for The Link about my experience as a new parent taking “Deerfield 101” during Look to the Hills last summer I hesitated. The “Deerfield 101” session was meant to be a crash course in all things Deerfield, a way for new parents to grasp the basics: How will my child get his work done? How will he figure out where his classes are? How will she be fed, housed and cared for? How will she know where to go if there is a problem? In short, how will my child POSSIBLY manage without me?

It turns out my “Deerfield 101” course was brief, complete and to the point. The few parents who attended had their questions answered in short order. In recalling this experience and in thinking about what I should report to Link readers a light bulb went off. In reality the entirety of my Look to the Hills experience was my Deerfield 101.

I signed up for Look to the Hills specifically to learn about this place that my son would be entering a few short weeks into the future. He would be arriving on campus as a new sophomore joining classmates who already had a year of Deerfield behind them, who already had formed social groups, who already knew the ropes. I signed up for Look to the Hills because I wanted to understand how he might fare and how he might be treated entering mid-stream.

And so, I chose to attend Look to the Hills. Alone, like my son, I would enter a scene to live and learn–for a few days anyway–with others who already belonged and who were familiar with each other and the place. We often wonder how our children will make their way at school for the first time away from home. Look to the Hills was not like attending the usual info session for parents. It was a version of the reality of life at Deerfield, of being a new student.

There was Mr. Pitcher leading our class in a discussion of America at the Mexican border, teasing out class participation and insights from us novices knowing that some of us had not finished the required reading. There was Dr. Hills sharing with us in the dining hall his work experience as a top researcher at Merck, his analysis of how Big Pharma operates, and his motivations for leaving the world of big-budget, narrowly focused research to come to the world of Deerfield and advance the mission of inspiring young minds to learn not only about chemistry but also about how the world works and in so doing to learn about themselves. There were meals shared with faculty and staff. There was socializing in the Greer at the end of long fruitful days. But most of all there was camaraderie and sharing. Old friends and newcomers alike were welcomed and everyone at Deerfield seemed like a host.

Look to the Hills was enjoyable for all the things and in all the ways you might expect at a friendly and academically alive place like Deerfield. But for a new parent it was confirmation that my son’s decision to accept Deerfield’s offer of admission was indeed the right decision for him. While there would no doubt be uncertainties ahead, there was much more so a sense of excitement for the Deerfield opportunities my son would soon find for himself.

Learn more about Deerfield’s Look to the Hills program, which runs from August 1-4, 2013.

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