Acceptance Letters: Parents, college and letting go

We're Halfway There

Robert Daugherty
June 16, 2017

My daughter arrived home last month at the end of her second year at Kenyon. This milestone, the midpoint of her college career, got me thinking about the phrases we use to denote a halfway point: halftime, half empty, half full, half baked, the other half, half-life, and, from the ’80s soundtrack of my youth, “oh, oh, we’re halfway there, oh, oh, living on a prayer.” With apologies to Bon Jovi, we are halfway there, but certainly not living on a prayer. The Kenyon experience has been fantastic for our family.

The time certainly flew by — it’s as if we arrived on campus in the Fall of 2015, blinked, and here we are. Perhaps too much attention is paid to the various sources that create college rankings. Personally, at this point, the only ranking that matters to me is what the college means to my child. In this first half of her Kenyon career, I’ve seen her excel in the classroom, on the athletic field, and through summer internships related to her fields of study, mathematics and economics. Sometimes, I wonder how I sent a child to college, and got back a young woman organizing and leading trips on the Appalachian Trail. My Kenyon ranking gives high marks for the whole-person development I’ve seen in my daughter these past two years.

In a few short days, I’ll be shipping my daughter off to Oregon to finish off her summer with an eight-week National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). Working closely with the Kenyon faculty, Caroline was able to secure several invitations to various REUs across the country, and has chosen one that will provide invaluable experience going forward. Again, my ranking system gives high marks for close faculty mentoring and guidance.

So at this halfway point, I couldn’t be more pleased with my family’s Kenyon experience. But as with many things in life, getting halfway there, or even closer than that, is not good enough. The first half is about success, and with that accomplished, I expect the second half to be about significance. So with that expectation, I look forward to these next two years at Kenyon. Questions come to mind: What will the semester abroad be like? What exciting opportunities will come into focus for the final summers? How will Caroline take this community of learning with her when she leaves Gambier? Will I be able to find a place to stay for graduation in 2019?

So, while I celebrate being halfway there, and anything that indulges my references to ’80s music, I’m reminded that the second half of anything only raises expectations, and I’m excited for the journey ahead.