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Parent Email–August 08, 2011

  • Parents Weekend
  • Finance Update
  • Data privacy and Parent/Guest Access
  • Move-In Days
  • Common Book
  • Book Buying
  • Career Development
  • Miscellaneous

This is a rare, quiet week on campus. A number of staff have scheduled vacations before the flurry begins. Those of us who are in our offices have our heads down, working hard to put projects into place for the start of school. Over in Coffman Union, the Bookstore is noticing an uptick in business as students look up their lists of required texts.

Parents Weekend

Parents Weekend is scheduled for September 30-October 2. You can find information online, and a guide to Parents Weekend is being mailed to the address listed as your student's home/permanent address. Please mark the date, register for the weekend, and come to campus September 30-October 2! The schedule is still being developed, so check back for more details.

Finance Update

An online calculator is available to estimate your student's cost of attendance at the University of Minnesota this year. Students who filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and applied for financial aid should have received their financial aid offer through their U of M email account. They need to confirm any aid they choose to accept. Disbursement of aid will occur the week before the fall term begins. If your student did not fill out the FAFSA form, there is still time to do so.

Data Privacy and Parent/Guest Access

College-aged students are among the most vulnerable population for identity theft. Please talk to your student about the importance of protecting passwords and pin numbers, keeping their credit and debit cards safe, and reporting any problems immediately. Students have a tendency to share their personal information with the people they love, including parents, best friends, roommates, and boyfriends or girlfriends. When relationships go bad, however, that personal information can be used for all the wrong reasons.

The most powerful message students can receive about protecting privacy is when their parents say, "Don't share your passwords or pin numbers with anyone—not even me." You can arrange for them to record their codes or passwords in a secure place, to be accessed only in case of emergency. When parents emphasize the importance of privacy, students are less likely to share that information with friends.

Students' academic records are protected by federal legislation. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) specifies that college students own their academic records and control who has access to them. Students can grant access to parents, providing a separate log-in process for you to view your student's records. The University has made it as easy as possible for students to give you access to see—but not change—your student's records. Please be sure to have your student provide Parent/Guest Access to you for the records you need to see.

Note: Parent/Guest Access was changed last spring so that bill paying and parent access are included in the same process. Returning students will need to re-authorize parent access.

Move-In Days

First-year students who will live in the residence halls have received a mailing with information about moving into the halls. Because of concerns about traffic congestion caused by light-rail construction, move-in has been extended. A Monday move-in date has been added for some students, and additional move-in receptions for parents have also been scheduled.

When you move your student in to the halls, please stop at the Parents Reception. Give your student a chance to unpack, meet roommates and neighbors, and settle in on their own. Come to the Parents Reception for a break, have some refreshments, and get answers to your last-minute questions. Then go back and check on your student before you go home. You'll both be reassured that your student can handle things.

The new schedule for Parent Receptions is as follows:

  • For Monday evening move-in: Parent Reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Monday, August 29, in the TV Lounge of Territorial Hall (Super Block). A brief program will be held at 7:30 p.m.
  •  For Tuesday daytime move-in: Parent Reception from noon to 3 p.m., Tuesday, August 30, in the Mississippi Room (third floor), Coffman Memorial Union. Brief program at 12:30 and at 2 p.m.
  • For Tuesday evening move-in: Parent Reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, August 30, in the Mississippi Room (third floor), Coffman Memorial Union. Brief program at 7:30 p.m.
  • For Wednesday daytime move-in: Parent Reception from noon to 3 p.m., Wednesday, August 31, in the Mississippi Room (third floor), Coffman Memorial Union. Brief program at 12:30 and 2 p.m.

One Stop counselors will attend the evening receptions to answer any question related to billing or payments. The One Stop Student Service Center will be open during regular business hours on all move-in days in the Science Teaching and Student Services (STSS) building.

Common Book

Each year the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) selects a book for its students to read and discuss. This year, the book selected is "Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference," by Warren St. John ((Spielgel and Grau, 2009). For the first time, CEHD has invited all U of M parents to share the experience by reading the book, joining an online discussion (on the University of Minnesota Parent Program Facebook page), and attend two public events, featuring the author and the coach who is the central character in the book.

The book tells the story of Clarkston, Georgia: "...a typical southern town until it was designated a refugee settlement center in the 1990s, becoming the first American home for scores of families in flight from the world's war zones--from Liberia and Sudan to Iraq and Afghanistan. Suddenly Clarkston's streets were filled with women wearing the hijab, the smells of cumin and curry, and kids of all colors playing soccer in any open space they could find--the last thanks to Luma Mefleh, an American-educated Jordanian woman who starts a youth soccer team to unify Clarkston's refugee children."

The University Bookstore is offering parents a 25% discount on the paperback book, and it will be available during Move-In week. (It is also available as an e-book in Kindle and Nook format.) We will include discussion questions in Parent email newsletters beginning the first week of classes, and the public events are planned for October 25 (the author, Warren St. John) and November 1 (the coach, Luma Mefleh).

Please join other parents and the students of CEHD in reading this book.

Book Buying

Students can log on to the University Bookstore website to find information about textbooks required for their fall courses. The Bookstore offers textbooks for sale (new or used) or to rent, and in some cases, digital versions are available. Students living in U of M residence halls can have their books delivered at no charge to their hall by ordering before August 24. The Bookstore in Coffman Union has extended hours the week before classes begin, include during Labor Day Weekend.

Career Development

As students are planning their fall calendars, they might consider marking down a few career events:

  • St. Paul Campus Job and Internship Fair: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday, September 21, North Star Ballroom, St. Paul Student Center. Students can meet with organizations hiring interns and full-time employees in fields related to agriculture, animal science, banking/finance, bio-based products,  food science, retail, sales and marketing. 
  • Online Job Fair Success Workshop: Students can learn how to make the most of a career fair, in the comfort of their own home and at their own convenience.
  • CLA Internship Event: Let Your Journey Begin: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday, September 27, Science Teaching & Student Services Building, Interview Center. CLA students and recent alumni (within one year of graduation date) are invited to learn about internship openings and talk to the employers offering them. This is also an opportunity for students to network, scope out the Career Center, and get good career planning advice. 

Miscellaneous

Students can go online to order a U-Pass.The U-Pass provides students with unlimited rides on city buses; the $97 pass covers the whole semester and is valid from August 29 – January 16, 2012.

Students who will be living off campus can have their lease reviewed at no charge during the University Student Legal Service's Walk-In-Week (August 25, 26, 29, 30: 9-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-4 p.m.).  University Student Legal Service staff will review leases for registered students' room, home, or apartment; no appointment needed. 160 West Bank Skyway.

Most incoming freshmen have now received their residence hall assignments. With social networking, students have multiple tools for learning about their new roommates, but please encourage your student not to make quick judgments based on Facebook profiles or Twitter comments. It's fairly common for Facebook pages to illustrate the extremes of a student's personality, and profiles are typically very one-dimensional. Remind your son or daughter that students come to campus with plans to make a fresh start, and what's on the Facebook page reflect high school, not college goals. Although they may not turn out to be best friends, roommates can get along when they treat one another with respect. A U of M junior offers some words of advice on roommates.

Please respond to our Parent Question of the Month for August!

Last month, our parent question asked, "A possible tuition increase of 5%, plus the loss of federal federal funding, could mean that students face an increased cost for the education of around 12% this year. How will this affect your family's ability to pay for your student's education?"  Parents' responses indicated that the possible increase would have a major impact on their own or their student's finance—either increasing their loans, causing the student to work more hours, postponing parents' retirement or other payments, and in some cases, preventing the student from continuing his or her education. Parents also submitted a number of comments about the potential effects. The results of the survey and the comments have been forwarded to the Student Finance office, the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, and other administrators. We do understand the sacrifice families are making and the challenges of the possible increases this year. The One Stop office commented, "Your student's college education is a major investment—one that leads to tremendous benefits and student outcomes—but may cause families a significant strain during school. Financial aid is a vital source of help. If your family circumstances have changed since you completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or you need to discuss your student's financial aid package, please contact a One Stop Counselor. In order to discuss financial aid or billing information, you will want to have your student sign up for Parent/Guest Access at onestop.umn.edu."

Meanwhile, to see what's happening on campus now, check the Northrop Mall webcam.