Once I discovered Baylor and read everything I could about the University and its community, I knew Baylor was my top choice. I was so sure that Baylor was where God was leading me that I never visited campus. … We were excited, but the 11-hour trip from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, combined with me being a first-generation college student, made for a very nervous mom. My mom and I talked about what we learned throughout my college experience, and here are a few things my parents wish they knew when I came to Baylor.
I ate at the dining halls often as a freshman, so I was used to having a variety of foods and not having to cook. Living off campus, I often just had cereal or something quick while rushing around. I honestly do enjoy cooking (and make some mean pasta), but there were plenty of times that I disappointed my mom when she asked, “What did you have for lunch today?”
We were sure that I would find my niche on campus, but there are always doubts for anyone. I quickly fell in love with the community at Baylor and in the Waco through my church family and others I’ve met in town—my Welcome Week leader even ended up being one of my best friends. All students have stumbles, and might not find their forever friends right away, but parents should rest assured that Baylor has a place for everyone. And, it’s OK if your child walks into the wrong class a couple times.
I could get lost in my schedule and not return calls as fast as my parents wanted. Dad, I’m sorry for all the times I’d say, “I’ll call tomorrow,” only to be busy with homework or an event. Mom, I know it was easy to worry about me when my schedule kept me busy from sunup to sundown. … know that we still love you and care [but] may not always text back right away.
No matter if you’re an hour or multi-day drive away, your child having an emergency that you can’t immediately attend to can be stressful and frightening. At the beginning of my junior year, I went to the Baylor clinic for a medical issue and was advised to go to the emergency room. Let’s just say my mom and I had a very emotional phone call. It was scary for both of us. She wanted to go with me, and I didn’t want to go at all. We settled down, and the situation wasn’t as serious as it seemed. She realized I was independent enough to go on my own, and she found a lot of peace in how I handled things. It ended up helping us grow a lot.
The saying, “Everything is bigger in Texas” applies to the number on the thermostat, too. Don’t get me started on backpack sweat. It’s never a surprise to see 3-digit temperatures, but on the bright side, it almost becomes fall … in mid-November. I struggled a lot with allergies at Baylor. Nevertheless, I adjusted and got somewhat used to carrying tissues in my backpack.
We commonly hear that students are likely to change their major one or more times before they graduate. I thought, “That won’t be me.” I was wrong. I came to Baylor as an aviation sciences major … but I found that I wasn’t as in love with flying as I thought. Ultimately, I found the perfect major for me: professional writing. I loved writing growing up, but never committed to it as a career. While I've never looked back, I was set back a little when I switched majors because of the specific classes I was taking. I recovered by taking some heavy course loads [and graduated on time], but it is definitely something we wish we had known in the beginning.
Whether it’s Family Weekend, Homecoming, or any other huge campus-wide event, Waco hotels fill up quickly when the Baylor Family comes to town. Many [hotels] charge more for these times of year because of demand. Plan well ahead and block out which events you’d like to attend. Book everything early so you don’t have any last-minute surprises.
My parents didn’t go to college when they were my age, so the cost of college was a bit overwhelming at first. College in general can be expensive, but we all know the incredible Baylor experience certainly isn’t free. My parents would have loved to plan and save more so that we wouldn’t have been so caught off guard or struggled financially. Thankfully Baylor is helpful at giving aid to those who need it, along with scholarships and federal financial aid.
Connor Watkins from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, graduated in May 2018 with a BA as a professional writing major. He aspires to work in the publishing industry and hopes to find one of his books on The New York Times best-seller list soon. His parents are Stephanie and Ronnie Watkins.