O-week drop off advice from Heather Johnston Fessler ’90, P’22, P’24

O- week students

1. Try to have your Owl get a decent amount of sleep the last two nights. O-week is fun, but has nonstop activities and is exhausting. Aim for farewell parties during the previous weekend, not on your last evenings.

2. If possible, have your Owl ride in front passenger seat as you pull up to your college and be ready to photograph or video the arrival.

3. Have all your boxes, bags, laundry basket, etc. labeled with your Owl's name and room number.

4. Know who will drive your unloaded car to the stadium lot and who will check in with your Owl. It could be a sibling or no one.

5. Don't sweat the room setup too much. They can readjust as they settle in. Don’t waste your last morning together for months debating how to fold t-shirts.

6. Your most private time to say goodbye will be before you go to the Commons for lunch (and their roommate and family will probably be in the room with you) so you may want to stop somewhere on the way if that matters to you. After lunch, you will have about 5 minutes to say goodbye, your Owl will go off with their advisor group, and you will stay to hear about all the support they will get. Imagine 80 kids being hugged goodbye by their families in a lunchroom and then walking out the door, not to be seen for weeks or months. It's emotional chaos, but good. We were relatively fine because we were just hugging and not trying to impart some final pearls of wisdom. If you have profound parting words to share with your Owl, you probably to want to say them on Saturday, because Sunday will be too crazy.

7. You will hear almost nothing from your Owl during O-week. Do not freak out. You cannot go campus. (Once they walk out after lunch, you can’t see them for the entirety of O-week.) They will be going to non-stop orientations and info sessions with breaks of silly games and picnics from early morning to late late at night. Take photos of the schedule posters at lunch so you understand how much they are learning and doing. Some colleges have Facebook pages with photos. Search for X College Historian, but realize that while some colleges post every single day, others wait until after O-week is over to post any photos or allow parents to join the page. Try not to be jealous if your Owl’s college is reticent. Rice will post a nice video of Sunday night’s matriculation, probably on Tuesday morning.

8. Don't worry if your Owl is arriving solo. I showed up alone at O-week with just my suitcase and I was taken care of. People will include your Owl in their groups and activities. My parents didn't see Rice until graduation. Sometimes it's not feasible to get to Houston and that is absolutely fine.

9. Your Owl is only a text or call away. This is a four-year journey; don't put too much emphasis or stress on the first week.

10. It will be fine. They will be fine. You will be fine. They will be fine well before you are. Rice has a far more nurturing and caring environment than almost any other university out there, so they will not be abandoned to struggle on their own. It will be fine.

Welcome and good luck!

Heather Johnston Fessler, Jones ’90, P’22, P’24