Spring 2017, Issue #8

May 15, 2017

Thriving as a Family When a Student Comes Home for the Summer

Dr. Chris and Alisa (’92) Grace

It seems like it was just yesterday that we were dropping our children off on campus to begin their studies at Biola. Oh, the smiling faces full of hope, wonder and anticipation for what the coming year might hold. And that was just the parents!

Our students have spent the better part of the year growing in their faith, being challenged academically, developing new friendships and becoming more independent. And now as summer approaches we eagerly anticipate their arrival back home. We know that they have likely changed and matured, and we await the opportunity to catch up with all that is new.

        Of course it is also normal to worry that they will have changed too much or will want to spend more time with friends than with family. Or we may worry that they will be too stressed or burned out, disengaged from the family, playing video games and glued to their phone. Perhaps we worry about the impact of bringing a loved one back into the fold and the disruption it may have on the family.

Our students may have similar worries, unsure how their newly found independence will be received at home, worried that they may be treated the same as before, or even misunderstood or unable to find the space to unwind.  

So what’s a family to do to ensure a smooth transition back home and make the coming months enjoyable for everyone? Here are a couple of thoughts, based on some research on relationships, as well personal experiences navigating this situation with two of our own children.

        First, identify and pray through your expectations. Write them out and ponder them, talk about them with your spouse or a friend, and then talk about them with your student. Discuss such things as the appropriate amount of time to be spent daily or weekly with family versus time with friends or time alone. Get clarity on how each of you views home responsibilities such as chores and meals together.

        Second, try to look at situations from each other’s perspective. Imagine how your student may view the issue and how it makes them feel, especially in light of their newly found and growing independence. They have changed and so have you, so be ready to see things differently. Be willing to compromise and find a win/win solution (or at least be willing to take turns compromising).

        Third, never underestimate the value of your attention, nor the art of asking good questions. “Tell me about this class you took.” “What gets you most excited about this new major or this new idea?” “What does God seem to be revealing to you in this situation?” “Tell me about this person who you connected with so well.” And, “What are you most looking forward to doing or accomplishing this summer?”

        Finally, as you listen and learn more about the year your student experienced, seek for ways to encourage them as they discuss emerging life plans, new ideas and things learned, even if they seem to lack depth or sophistication. Remember that our development is a process, and growth often comes in spurts—and even the best students need time to just be. Many need the summer to unwind and process the events of the year at their own, unhurried pace. Thankfully you know them well, can see and encourage their growing independence, and can create a welcoming and warm setting, with clear expectations, for the place they still affectionately call “home.”

Watch commencement LIVE

Can’t make it to the commencement ceremony in person? Good news! You can watch both commencement ceremonies from any web browser on Biola’s main page or on the commencement home page.

Yearbooks now available

Students can pick up their free version of the Biolan, Biola’s yearbook in the lower level of the Student Union Building (SUB) near the internal entrance to Eagle’s Nest. It’s a great keepsake to show family and friends just how fun and transformative this year has been.

Important Summer Housing Dates

Reminder: Changes to Academic Calendar

In the Fall 2017 semester the academic calendar will shift to two semesters and an extended summer. The changes will allow Biola to dovetail with the trimester system allowing the university to serve non-traditional students better and give students the opportunity to be competitive for summer jobs and finish their degrees quicker.

Due to the new academic calendar, move in day for incoming and returning students will also shift by one day. Returning students will move in on Friday, Aug. 25. The biggest change in the fall is that classes will begin on Monday, August 28, instead of on Wednesday.

Watch Biola Conferences

Open Biola allows people across the globe, including yourself, to watch Biola classes and conferences from your living room. All three Biola conferences—Missions, SCORR and Torrey—were added to Open Biola! Check them out!

Unfamiliar with these conferences? Here’s a helpful guide:

Missions Conference: Biola’s annual Missions Conference is currently the largest student-led Missions Conference in the world. Every year since the foundation of this mobilizing movement, Biola’s Missions Conference has sought to educate, equip and inspire students to embrace their role in the completion of the Great Commission.

Learn more here. Watch sessions here.

SCORR Conference: SCORR stands for Student Congress on Racial Reconciliation. It is a national two-day conference during which students, staff and faculty from various Christian colleges and universities join together to celebrate and learn of the diversity within the body of Christ.

Learn more here. Watch sessions here.

Torrey Conference: This three-day conference is named after Biola's first dean, Reuben Archer Torrey, a well-known evangelist who saw thousands come to faith in Jesus Christ. Sessions are taught by some of Biola's outstanding faculty, as well as godly men and women students wouldn't normally hear in chapel, such as Alistair Begg, Jill Briscoe, Josh McDowell, Lorie Salierno, Elizabeth Elliot, Francis Chan and Bryan Loritts.

Learn more here. Watch sessions here.

Thank you from Parent Relations

Dear Parents and Family,

As the 2016-2017 school year comes to a close, we wanted to take a moment to thank you, yes you, for another wonderful year. Our office has the immense privilege of seeing the transformative work of the Spirit in your students’ lives on campus as well as the love and support they have waiting for them at home. As we reflect on the year we are awestruck by the generosity of our parents both through their time and finances:

  • Former and Current Biola parents are responsible for over $55 million in donations during the five year, A Soul of Conviction and a Voice of Courage, campaign. Thanks to your generous investments Biola finished the campaign February 1, 2017, having raised over $214 million!

  • In this year alone, parents raised $5,000 for our Student Benevolent fund, providing compassionate assistance to students in emergency situations.

  • In March of 2017 more than 100 parents volunteer to take part in the Biola Parent-to-Parent Calling campaign. It is thanks to their efforts that over 1,500 prospective families received a personal contact from a Biola family just like them!

  • Over 2,000 family members brought a bit of home to their students when they visited for events like Parent and Family Welcome, Family Weekend and Grandparents Day.

  • Countless prayers were made by the Parents in Prayer network who lifted up 217 student specific prayer requests over the course of the year.


Thank you also for the simple yet important act of investing your time to stay informed. Whether it’s through email newsletters, Facebook feeds, keeping up with the Chimes or watching chapels online we appreciate that you desire to make what matters to them, matter to you.


Blessings to all of you this summer. We pray it will be a fun and restful time for you and your family—we cannot wait to see what 2017-18 has in store!

Colleen Heykoop         

Director of Parent Relations

Stephanie Theis

Manager of Parent Programs



Biola University
13800 Biola Ave. La Mirada, CA 90639