Parent to parent: Finding the right-fit college experience at Gettysburg

As our eldest son, Robert, set out to select a college, we soon learned what many friends warned us: Choosing a college is overwhelming! There are so many fine institutions and so much to consider. The burning question we asked was always, “How will we know which one is the right fit?” 

Sign #1: Gettysburg College’s commitment to its students

What initially attracted our family to Gettysburg College was its size, reputation for academic rigor, and distance from our New Jersey home. We also appreciated the College’s understanding in the face of COVID-19 and its commitment to maintaining normalcy as much as possible, recognizing that a residential in-person learning environment is imperative. 

When we visited the campus in winter 2022, we were intrigued by the charming town and beautiful campus in one of the most historic places in American history. While watching the hustle and bustle of students moving around campus, we could sense a welcoming, positive, and engaged community.

What convinced us about Gettysburg was the College’s dedication at every turn to provide A Consequential Education and how a liberal arts and sciences focus serves that goal through the broad development of lifelong enduring skills, such as leadership, teamwork, communication, critical thinking, and intellectual dexterity. These skills do not become obsolete with ever-changing technology but maintain their relevance even more.

Dennis and Colleen Papadeas P’26 with their son Robert ’26
Dennis and Colleen Papadeas P’26 with their son Robert ’26 during First-Year Orientation for the Class of 2026

Sign #2: Gettysburg’s supportive community

In 2022, Convocation was inspirational for our entire family, and the first-year student Orientation, culminating with the First-Year Walk, immediately made our son Robert feel part of the community. 

As reassuring as those activities were, it was not until Robert experienced adversity with several classes during the first semester that we knew on a deeper level that Gettysburg College was the right fit. Robert’s professors and advisor were approachable and supportive. He received helpful, real-world guidance when changing his major from biology to health sciences. An advisor from the Center for Student Success helped Robert stay on track through a collaborative approach that prompted him to succeed. The process was not easy we could tell that Robert was outside his comfort zone. We found comfort as we sensed Robert maturing and growing through the challenges.

It was not only the support Robert received from College staff that made a difference. Robert was fortunate to have developed a close and diverse friend group during his first year at Gettysburg. Being around young people who cared about their studies and one another made a big difference.

Robert took advantage of teamwork opportunities at Gettysburg inside and outside the classroom. He collaborated with his class advisor and student advisor to choose his future semester courses, discuss time management, and attend professor office hours to stay on track. First-semester challenges and adjustments led to second-semester successes that raised confidence for the future. Student activities such as group projects in his classes, club meetings, athletics, and Greek life outside the classroom continue contributing to Robert’s happiness and growth.

Sign #3: Gettysburg’s boundless opportunities

The third time we were reminded that we made the right college choice was near the end of summer when Robert told us he was looking forward to returning to campus and classes. Robert took full advantage of his time over the summer by taking a Spanish language summer class, working a job, and even spending time with his Gettysburg peers. When it was time to say goodbye after helping Robert move in to begin the new semester as a sophomore, we felt no apprehension like a year earlier, only enthusiasm and confidence for him to expand upon all the tremendous opportunities Gettysburg College offers.

Visit Gettysburg College; meet engaging faculty, staff, and students; and discover Gettysburg’s distinctive living and learning environment.

By Colleen and Dennis Papadeas P’26
Photo courtesy of Colleen and Dennis Papadeas P’26
Posted: 10/30/23

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