Rest assured, parents — we’re still studying hard

We knew that it was coming. We prepared for the invasion. Thousands of empty white chairs suddenly appeared in organized rows on the lawns across campus heralding their arrival. White tents were strategically placed to provide shelter, food stations and an organized registration for the thousands of new campus occupants.

Julia Vann | Daily Trojan

Our parents have arrived.

Some aspects of our collegiate lives we might actually want to show our parents, expecting them to continue in their roles of our biggest fans.

We tout our recent midterm grades (if they were in fact acceptable), show off our class projects and engage our parents in clever discussions, displaying our prowess in regurgitating whatever class material is still lodged in our short-term memory.

And yet, students still have had to do some preparation for this temporary occupation.

Surely we’ve all spent some time figuring out what about our lives needs to be hidden from Mom and Dad, and many among us have prepared to mask our usual, but clearly substandard, living conditions.

We tidy our dorms and apartments, stash our piles of laundry (excluding the few lucky students who simply have Mom to wash and fold them while she’s here). In the event we didn’t do so well on the midterms, we look for ready topics and activities to distract from the potentially disastrous subject of grades.

We also pretend we haven’t been living on only two meals a day, alternating between breakfast cereal and the chicken ramen family pack — while eating out of the only bowl, or Pyrex measuring cup, that we own. And some students choose to refrain from their typical weekend activities — partying, drinking, etc. — in the interest of being cognizant of family time.

As for the professors, they can suffer a trepidation similar to students over the Parents Weekend festivities.

Some might need to clean up their act and normalize their behavior, just as we do.

Otherwise, those shrewd parents who choose to sit in on a class might end up figuring out the rate they’re being charged for corny jokes and irrelevant tangents —  not that any professors are guilty of that. As the most visible representatives of the university, professors must put on their best faces and sound their smartest to prove the value of a USC education.

But what about the impact on the school? Our university hosts a vast array of events to keep Parents Weekend bustling. On one hand, there’s some implicit stress for the administrators over event planning and coordination.

And on the other, it’s an opportunity to showcase USC as an amazing marketplace of ideas and opportunities, as well as to provide comfort to parents in their tuition check-writing time of anguish.

Unlike the rest of us, the university has nothing to hide from the oncoming tide of parents (hopefully, that is.  The athletic probation has already worn us out — we’ve hit our scandal quota for now).

To any parents reading this column, we really are learning all of those things that we’re supposed to learn here. Even though professors might be smiling more this weekend and eliminating the occasional profane word, they are nevertheless brilliant and accomplished.

We are fortunate to be learning at their hand, and we’re making great strides under their direction.

We’re also getting plenty of exercise. And, with all of the recent furor over the medical necessity of proper amounts of Vitamin D, rest assured that we’ve been getting plenty of sunshine here in SoCal — even an excess in the last few days with this 113-degree heat wave.

When we need to take a break and do something fun, we have plenty of places to choose from — the Pacific Ocean, L.A. Live, Disneyland — to get us ready to dive back in and work hard to make you proud.

All humor aside, we’re glad you’re here. We’re immensely proud of our school and hope you have a great time this weekend. And to students, when you’re through crying over your parents’ departure (whether real or feigned), never fear — life as we know it resumes Sunday night.

Reid Roman is a sophomore majoring in industrial and systems engineering. His column, “Bright Side,” runs every other Friday.

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