Last month my husband and I moved my niece, an incoming freshman from Connecticut, into her dorm room at USC. The experience revealed to us just how much has changed since our days on a college campus.
Where’s the story?
For starters, I was amazed at all the help that was available.
Before arriving on campus, new USC parents could visit a Facebook page to communicate with other parents, getting questions answered and receiving advice and referrals from those who’ve already “been there, done that” with a child.
In addition, each freshman can take advantage of a Facebook page strictly for the Class of 2018, where they share information with their fellow classmates. Student by student, a new social network is built.
There’s also a program that looks similar to Match.com except, instead of helping to make love matches, it helps match up roommates. Students fill out a survey and the automated system highlights, for example, “five students who have 80 percent of your same interests.” Students can begin communicating with proposed matches until they find a roommate fit.
Campus orientation provides tours and gives students extensive information about various disciplines in their chosen field of study. Students meet their advisors and receive help choosing classes and registering.
The Campus Cruiser offers a 24-hour shuttle service that takes students in and around campus.
The Trojan Alert app sends texts to students and parents about real-time emergencies such as police alerts, street closings and water-main breaks on campus and in the surrounding area.
Maybe these resources are familiar to those of you with college-age children, but with only a cocker spaniel at home, my husband and I were unfamiliar with all the ways help is provided for this particular life transition.
Ed Rockey, professor of applied behavioral science at Pepperdine University, presents programs on creative problem solving. One of his exercises involves “linking the unlinked,” or taking solutions that are working in one field and seeing if they can be tweaked to solve a problem in another area.
Is there something we can take from the resources available to incoming college students and apply it to supporting senior life transitions?
Could there be a community Facebook page for adult children caring for aging parents in Thousand Oaks or Agoura Hills or Simi? Just think how valuable this social network community could be in offering advice and answering questions from those who’ve been there, done that.
What about a “Class of 2014” Facebook page for boomers who are turning 65 this year? What better way to share practical advice, commiserate, then turn it positive and talk up the notion that 65 is the new 40? What if Match.com created a housing app to match seniors who wanted roommates?
Should there be more advocates available to guide seniors in making complex life choices?
Maybe a car dealership could offer a subsidized shuttle van to transport seniors in a designated neighborhood if, as part of a loyalty program, a certain number buy cars from the dealership.
Should there be a Senior Alert App that highlights programs of interest in the community that day?
And what if moving companies like Atlas Van Lines offered a bundled package of sorting, selecting, donating, selling and shipping household items for seniors who are downsizing?
While every age and stage has something to teach us, connecting the tools and systems of different generations might be one of the keys to helping seniors prepare for their future.