Everything You’re Getting Wrong About Fac Brats

Being a “fac brat,” a student who is also the child of a Lawrenceville faculty member, isn’t always the easiest.

Being a “fac brat,” a student who is also the child of a Lawrenceville faculty member, isn’t always the easiest. There are many stereotypes and misconceptions that come with being a fac brat at Lawrenceville. We are not all super smart, we aren’t best friends with every teacher on campus, and we’re not all textbook overachievers. People automatically assume that we get preferential treatment, but they seem to forget that having a parent work at Lawrenceville also has its ups and downs.

I’ve been told before that I have the best of both worlds: I’m a day student, but I live in the same proximity to campus as a boarder would. While it’s a nice position to be in, “the best of both worlds” card is often used against me—especially when my parents complain about driving me to school when it’s 28 degrees outside and snowing, because apparently, “it’s close enough to walk.” I’ve lived on campus for quite a while, which also means that I’ve been eating dining hall food well before I became a student here. I never really had my parents make home-cooked meals, except in the summers when Irwin is closed.

As a fac brat, I’m always known as someone’s someone. I’m often simply seen as Dean Laws’s kid, or Matt Laws’s little sister. I’ve gotten used to being associated with them, but it’s quite frustrating when I meet someone new on campus and two lines into our conversation, the person asks “Is Dean Laws your dad?” or “Is Matt Laws your brother.” I experienced the worst of this situation when my brother was a peer tutor in Boys Lower my II Form year. Let’s just say that the boys might as well have worshiped the ground he walked on. I don’t know why, and I certainly don’t see what they were so impressed with (sorry Matt). It’s annoying, to say the least, to know that my brother is not only “buddy-buddy” with the students in my grade but also never fails to constantly remind me of it. As a result, most of Boys Lower last year only ever thought of me as Matt Laws’s little sister.

People often assume that fac brats have a smooth transition to Lawrenceville because we already know the students and faculty and can navigate campus easily. To an extent, this is generally true, but there are certainly some caveats. Before attending Lawrenceville, many faculty members knew exactly who I was, but I never knew any of them. Once I began school, they would wave to me in the halls, even though I didn’t know their names—something that I’m sure other fac brats have experienced as well. During my II Form year, I had a substitute teacher come into my classroom, and as soon as she saw me, she was practically beaming with joy. I was quite taken aback by her enthusiastic reaction, so I don’t remember exactly what she said, but it was something along the lines of: “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it’s you! Wow, I would have never expected this. It’s so strange but also so wonderful!” Meanwhile, I was just sitting there awkwardly nodding, throwing in the occasional, “Yeah, so great to have you as a sub today.” Truth be told, I had absolutely no idea who the teacher was.

For the record, I feel like it needs to be said that not all fac brats get good grades. That is an universal truth. Sure, we may feel more motivated to work hard since our teachers can always pop into our parents’ offices for “fun chats” about us, but we struggle and complain about our homework, too. Students think we have it easy because if we need help with homework, we can just ask our parents. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. It’s not like our parents know everything; my dad may be a great math and science teacher, but I doubt that he would ever be able to help me with my English homework. Plus, he has a life, so he doesn’t really have time to be my personal tutor.

I also want to clear up the misconception that all fac brats know Lawrenceville inside out. People assume that we grew up climbing through secret tunnels in Mem, but the reality is that we don’t climb through secret tunnels or know where all the buildings are on campus. I’ll gladly be the first to admit that I, too, had a hard time finding my classes at the start of freshman year. In fact, until I started attending Lawrenceville, I didn’t know there were buildings called Pop, GCAD, or Noyes. My tour guide knew more about the campus than I did, and I’ve been living here for 15 years. I knew most of the Crescent Houses, but I thought Stanley was a boy’s House for the longest time, which is quite ironic because I’m now in Stanley.

Another common misconception is that our parents act differently at home than they do at school. I hate to break it to you, but Dean Laws doesn’t have an alter ego; he’s just a normal dad. He’s an avid Kansas City Chiefs fan, manages to insert scientific knowledge into every conversation, and likes to throw around a corny dad joke every once in a while.

People tend to think that fac brats have vastly different experiences at Lawrenceville compared to other students, and more often than not, they’re wrong. While having a parent who works here is certainly a unique aspect of our experience, fac brats are not much different from regular students; we do the work, get the grades, and move on after four years. After all, we’re Lawrentians, just like everyone else.

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