Campus Life

Advice for New USF Parents — From a USF Parent

by Annie Breen, USF News

Jenny Baker remembers leaving her daughter Megan Baker ’23 at USF's first-year orientation four years ago, getting on a plane, and flying home to Milwaukee. It was hard, she said.

Jenny was back on campus last month when Megan, an English major with an emphasis in creative writing and a minor in psychology, presented at her senior thesis panel. It was a proud moment.

For new USF parents, Jenny has some advice.

How to Leave
Encourage your student to explore — the smart way. Remind them to travel in pairs when going off campus and to be aware of their surroundings and keep the volume down on ear buds so they can hear when others speak to them.

Trust the Process
My fears, honestly, were more tied to her making friends than her safety in San Francisco. I’ve been to the city many times so I am aware of some of the areas to avoid or where I would Uber versus take the bus.

What really allayed any concerns I had was that in the orientation, the school was telling the students the same things that we parents were. The Student Life staff reinforced that same message of safety in numbers, paying attention when out and about, etc.

I love that USF is what I call a “high-touch” campus. I work for such a campus in the Midwest, where we get to know our students and keep tabs on them in a good way — we’re mindful of when they are missing class or if things don’t seem right with them.

Pros and Cons
The first time I was in the Bay Area, what surprised me a little bit was the number of homeless people living in tents around the city. With Wisconsin winters, we just don’t see that type of homelessness. But I have always found that if you treat people with respect they will reciprocate. And there are not homeless people immediately around campus.

Something that surprises and delights me every time I am in San Francisco is the weather. It is beautiful almost year-round, and the USF campus is beautiful and so well maintained.

Must-Dos When Visiting

  1. Stop by the campus bookstore. The friendliest people work there, including my daughter, and they have a great selection of Dons gear to show your USF pride.
  2. Spend some time on campus. I appreciated being able to meet some of the professors that my daughter told me about — people who made a big impression on her. When the time comes, try to attend those big thesis/capstone presentations, or watch via Zoom. Some proud moments occur there.
  3. Venture out with your student on Muni. It’s a great way to see the city, spend time talking to your student, and see some of the sights. San Francisco is easily navigated using public transportation — and with the hills, one can only do so much walking. My daughter and I took the bus to the zoo once, and returning on the route right alongside the Pacific was a treat. Try to find something new to see each time you go. Next visit, we’re going to Alcatraz.

Final Thoughts
Trust your student. Let them live and learn in a place that excites them. It’s hard to drop your child off at college and drive away, or watch that push back from the airport gate, but know when that happens you are showing your student that you can let go. You raised them to be good people, and this is their chance to shine.