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A Personal Account from Presidential Spouse Traci Corey
Making the Transition

As Olivet slips into late summer, the college is abuzz with preparations for students returning to campus, and welcoming the Class of 2020 to their new, four-year home. Faculty and staff have had the opportunity to meet many of these new Comets and their parents during summer orientation. And, while excitement builds for the academic year ahead, there’s also a heightened level of emotion as parents get ready to send their child away from home for the first time.

As the parent of an independent young lady getting ready to make that same leap in 2017, Traci Corey (pictured far right), mother to Karli (pictured far left) and wife of President Steven Corey (pictured center), knows the feeling. Seventeen-year-old Karli is narrowing down her college decision as she wraps up her summer studying in Cambridge, England. When she returns to the United States, she’ll finish her senior year at Olivet High School and finalize her decision to attend one of her top colleges of choice: Cambridge, Dartmouth (Hanover, N.H.), Lewis & Clark (Portland, Ore.), Puget Sound (Tacoma, Wash.), Sewanee (Tenn.) or Transylvania (Lexington, Ky.).

Despite the whirlwind of emotions that often comes with helping a child choose the right fit college, Traci says Karli is an empowered, responsible person who will be prepared to make that decision when the time comes. By encouraging Karli to take advantage of experiences that interest her – whether it’s volleyball camp, working in the back country of the Sierra Nevada mountain range (see picture below), or taking college-level classes right here at Olivet – the Coreys have shown her that exploring opportunities to get involved with academics, work, sports, the arts and more is key to making the right college choice and, ultimately, having a great experience.

“No matter what your child is interested in, supporting their need to get involved and discover what they like to do is so important to their growth and development,” Traci said. “It gives them the opportunity to learn life skills, such as being more responsible because they have to make independent decisions, and seeing the consequences of those whether they are good or bad. It also teaches them how to work with others and speak for themselves.  All of these skills give them a greater sense of self confidence when they are out on their own. I know it’s helped Karli become more independent and focus on the colleges that might be the best fit for her.”

Forging Her Own Path

Traci says that encouraging Karli’s independence has always been important in their family, so when Karli expressed interest in attending college far away from home, it came as no surprise. “Since the very beginning, we’ve always encouraged her to be the one who talks to her teachers, stays on top of her studies and is responsible for her,” Traci said. “This is her life, her decision, and she’s got to figure out what’s important to her. At Olivet, she’s always been ‘the president’s daughter’ and not ‘Karli.’ So, no matter where she chooses to go, we support her decision to go out and grow, learn who she is and create her own identity.”

Figuring out who she is as an individual starts with Karli exploring the world on her own – something Traci says her daughter has always looked forward to, but was also nervous about. As parents, the Coreys have been helping Karli embrace this next step all her life by preparing her to be as self-sufficient as possible, talking honestly about her emotions, and having a plan. “It’s important for us to be supportive, but to also give her the opportunity to spread her wings,” Traci said. “She is getting her first real taste of this at Cambridge this summer, and will have an idea of what it’s going to be like when she’s off to college next year.”

Choosing the Right Fit

For any first-year college student, choosing a school that fits with one’s personality, interests, values and educational goals will mean all the difference in their experience. The Coreys have always encouraged prospective OC students to take a close look at what they want out of their experience, and the same is true for their daughter. “The benefits of living on Olivet’s campus have been endless,” Traci said. “It’s given us a bird’s eye view about what to look for in an institution. Not to mention the amazing mentors Karli has had here from the start – confident female students on campus, as well as the incredible professors she has had in her dual enrollment courses.

“Karli has led an informed and thoughtful search process for the right college – we’re just along for the ride,” she added. “It has been so much fun for Steven and me as we’ve traveled around the country visiting other institutions. Especially for Steven – he’s really enjoyed going on these campus visits ‘incognito.’ It has been affirming for us to see these other topnotch colleges – to see all the things they are doing so well and knowing we’re doing the same great things here at Olivet, and in many instances, doing things better.”

In the coming year, Karli, who plans to major in biology, will make a final decision about the college that’s best for her. But in the meantime, she will enjoy her last year of high school, and just being a teenager. “I think she’s looking forward to enjoying her last year here, and focusing on class work, volleyball and her friends,” Traci said. “Steven and I will be soaking in all the last senior year experiences, and watching her enjoy them!”

Traci Corey is the presidential spouse of Olivet College. If you enjoyed reading this article, watch for more stories and news from her in the Hance House Newsletter, coming in the fall of 2016.

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