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University of Minnesota parents have their say

From the Spring 2011 Parent Newsletter

The mission of the University of Minnesota Parent Program is to provide communication between the University and the parents of our students in order to support student success, generate goodwill for the University, and promote an appropriate role for parents within the campus community. To assess the Parent Program's efforts to meet its mission, a comprehensive Parent Survey is conducted every two years.

This survey has been conducted seven times since 1995, perhaps the most extensive longitudinal study of university-parent relations involvement in the United States. During that time, university-parent relations have changed substantially.

University of Minnesota parent programming and communications have also changed significantly, based on new technologies, on the changing demographics of parents of U of M students, on feedback from parents and University staff, and on research conducted with the U of M Department of Family Social Science.

Parents report they are using new technology to stay in touch with their students. Traditional communication methods such as landline phones and postal service are now nearly nonexistent. In the two years since our previous survey, texting increased significantly, bringing down the rates of email and cell phone communications.

The survey results showed that younger parents were in contact more frequently with their students than older parents: 24 percent of Generation X parents (born after 1961) were in contact with their student one or more times a day, compared with 21 percent of Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1960). The percentage of parents who sent text messages to their student has increased for both generations: 53 percent of Baby Boomers texted almost always or often (compared with 24 percent in 2008), and 71 percent of Generation X parents texted almost always or often (compared with 37 percent in 2008).

In recent years, parents have consistently reported high levels of satisfaction with communications, programs, and services, and they reported strong feelings of connectedness to the University. The 2010 survey results continue those high levels of satisfaction. More than 95 percent of respondents report they are satisfied or very satisfied. The majority of parents are using U of M communications in conversations with their students, discussing topics we communicate about.

Parents who attended the University's parent orientation program interact much differently with the University and with their student. These parents were significantly more likely to receive and read the parent emails and discuss information from the emails with their students.

Those who attended parent orientation were the most involved in campus activities and were in touch with their students more often. They were also more likely to visit their student on campus. In general, parents are visiting their students on campus more frequently than in past years.

The survey results will continue to be studied for ideas on improving University parent services and communications.

 

Parents report they are using new technology to stay in touch with their students. Traditional communication methods such as landline phones and postal service are now nearly nonexistent.