Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Service, Spirituality, and Social Responsibility

Campus Life

For Parents

Welcome to the SSSR Parents Page.

College students wander. It is their job. They wander from major to major; they wander through relationships; they wander through other countries. It can be pretty scary to watch until we realize that the rambling is not random. Whether they speak of their wanderings as spiritual journey or identity crisis, life lab or National Geographic expedition, a great deal of the college "trip" is about connecting classroom learning with athletics, first internships to the environment, decisions about alcohol to everything and everything to an inner sense of self, meaning, purpose, commitment. The amazing thing about this journey is that students almost always end up somewhere, some fascinating where.

And SSSR is here to help. We are all about making connections, making meaning and about wandering with intent. If your student is having trouble finding a path or finding a posse ; or if you, yourself, are feeling a little lost, please remember the Chapel Basement. We have maps.

To get started, here are answers to a few questions we frequently get from family and friends.

My student was very active in community service throughout high school.  Will s/he be able to continue with service activities?

By all means. There are a number of service-oriented clubs at Wheaton and SSSR organizes short- and long-term service opportunities. You will also find a list of volunteer openings at local agencies on this web site.  Unfortunately, civic engagement drops considerably once students enter college even though studies have shown that such active engagement with the world around them enhances learning and adds to increased student satisfaction.  If your student seems to be struggling to connect at Wheaton, please encourage them to contact SSSR or the student-run Serice, Activism and Engagement Board to explore how much focusing on the larger community for one or two hours a week can brighten and expand their outlook.

Aren't all the service projects organized by your office religiously based?

Not at all. SSSR is the umbrella for three separate programs. Although clubs like Christian Fellowship, Hillel or Imani may choose to participate in service projects, the projejcts coordinated by SSSR never have a religious agenda or sectarian expectation of any kind.

My student has always been active in our religious community.  Will s/he be able to participate in religious services at Wheaton?

SSSR maintains a list of nearby local religious communities and supports both tradition-specific and interfaith spiritual exploration opportunities on campus. Students who do not find their spiritual tradition represented on campus are encouraged to contact Dean Vereene.

I know college students who have found ideas presented in class or lifestyles lived on campus to be challenging to their faith or personal value system. What can I do if that happens?

First, help your student see these kinds of challenges as natural growing pains. Consider it a 30,000 mile tune-up. Second, if your student continues to struggle, remind him/her/yourself that the Wheaton safety net is wide and strong–if you use it. Encourage your student to make an appointment to speak with Dean V or talk with other mentors–preceptors, hall staff, the Counseling Center, Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services, Chapel Basement or other Student Affairs offices.

My family isn't religious at all and, quite frankly, I don't understand why a college like Wheaton would devote important resources to religion.

Ongoing research tells us that this generation of college students are increasingly interested in questions they readily classify as "spiritual but not religious." A very different generation would talk about "finding" themselves." Who am I? What is my purpose in life? Why should I learn about people whose background is very different from my own?

Equally important, religious literacy is a key component of responsible global citizenship.  We know that many of the most persistent social problems around the world are related to relgious extremism and misunderstanding.  It is vital for the students who will become the leaders charged with addressing these challenges to bring a high degree of religious literacy and interfaith understanding to this task—and to recognize how religions and spiritual traditions have been a source of healing and positive social transformation, as well as a source of conflict.  SSSR works closely with the Marshall Center for Intercultural Learning, the Center for Global Education, Student Activities Involvement and Leadership (SAIL) and Wheaton faculty to create opportunities for students to learn about the role faith –and dogma–play in world events.

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