Published September 6, 2019
Being homesick or just plain lonely is a major concern for college students, especially freshmen. Loneliness and depression obviously negatively affect classes and socialization – potentially leading to dropout.
Even students from right here in Kansas can be five or six hours from their families and friends, often for the first time.
The Conquistador Companions program can help students feel a sense of belonging in the community they call home for almost nine months of the year.
To help create those bonds between the students and our community, the Conq Companions program joins “host” families with a student for the school year.
Host families won’t provide a second home or be expected to be a constant presence in the student’s life. The hope is that families will attend a few games or performances, invite their student to a meal or favorite gathering, and basically be a supportive and positive influence while welcoming a young mind to our community.
Dr. Glendon Forgey, CFO and vice president of administration for DC3 sees the program not only as building community connections, but also as a way to help keep students in school.
“It’s definitely a retention tool,” he said. “Students who feel like they are a part of something are more motivated. That’s why host families are so important.”
A host family can sometimes be a student’s sounding board for advice or to talk out concerns. Roommates or coaches or teammates may not always be the most comfortable place to seek advice or just sound off
“They can be a positive influence on the lives of our students,” Forgey said. “Sometimes they might just be a quiet place to go study and get away from the campus for a while.”
Forgey said with a substantial portion of students from out of state, and many international students, there are going to be some who can’t make it home for holidays and breaks.
“A lot of our students are not from this area,” he said. “They don’t really know anybody so we want them to have a good support base. If they need somebody else to talk to maybe they can reach out to their host family.”
Things like an occasional text message or email asking how class is going or how they have been feeling can often be the difference between a student lying in bed depressed all day or getting up and going to class.
Forgey said he’s been involved with organizations like Conquistador Companions at other institutions, and touted the benefits to the community and students.
“It was very well received,” he said. “We had a lot of success, not just with athletes, but with musicians and theater students and singers. The students absolutely love it. Whole churches sometimes bring in entire teams. It’s a good way to build rapport from both sides.”
Host families can indicate the type of student they would like to host. Forgey said he hopes families will find students with similar interests to develop an even deeper connection.
To become a Conquistador Companion visit https://dc3.edu/students/conquistador-companion/ and complete the form. Alternatively you can download and complete the Conquistador Companion Application and return it Attn: Glendon Forgey to 2501 N 14th Ave, Dodge City, KS 67801.
For more information contact Forgey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Scott Edger