Parent Home > News and Events > Email > Sept 27, 2011

Parent Email–September 27, 2011

  • Parents' Role in Student Success
  • Flu Vaccination Clinics
  • Workshop Resource for Students
  • Career Planning
  • Bike Center
  • International Student Open House
  • Portrait of the Quiet Student
  • On the Topic of Helicopter Parents
  • Miscellaneous

As cooler weather moves in during the next month or so, you could be thinking ahead to the other side of winter: Spring Break, March 10-17. This year, the U of M Parent Program has worked with the Learning Abroad Center and Global Citizens Network to sponsor a Spring Break service-learning trip for parents and students. The trip will take participants to La Push, Washington, to work with the Quileute people. La Push is a fishing village on the stunningly beautiful Pacific Coast of the Olympic Peninsula, and the Quileute are faced with challenges in maintaining their culture and surviving economically. Families taking part in the program will partner with the Quileute tribe to work in their community on projects such as building a home, painting, cooking, clearing trails, or recording elder's stories. For details and more information about the La Push service learning project, see the U of M Parent Program website. Registration for the Spring Break service learning trip is due by November 1.

Last week was President Kaler's inauguration. The University of Minnesota Parent Program Facebook page includes photos from the inauguration ceremony and the student celebrations that followed. (Sign in to your Facebook account, link to our University of Minnesota Parent Program Facebook page, and "like" us.)

Parents' Role in Student Success

In our recent parent e-mails, we have been discussing the University of Minnesota's Parent/Family Outcomes, which are intended to facilitate discussion about appropriate and successful family involvement during the college years. We believe that family members play a significant role in student success. Throughout childhood, a parent's job is to protect and support their child. During the college years, the parent's role is generally to empower their young adult. Parents still remain an important part of their student's life. They act as a mentor to their student, serving as an adviser and counselor. As a mentor, parents develop deeper respect for their child's individuality and personal responsibility. They promote their student's self-advocacy by encouraging her or him to identify problems and work toward solutions independently.

A common frustration among college parents is that they no longer have open access to their student's academic records. This limitation is based on federal mandate, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which stipulates that college students control their own academic records. Students certainly can provide their records to their parents, including billing information, financial aid, and grades, and the University allows students to release that information online, but access requires an agreement between the student and the parent.

Parents should remain appropriately involved in their child's life, particularly regarding the student's health and welfare. We encourage parents to be in regular contact with their child and be alert to signs that the student may be under significant stress, is taking unhealthy risks, or is ill. Parents who suspect their student is in trouble will naturally want to address those concerns with the student. It helps to discuss your observations openly and work with your student to develop a plan to address any problems.

Flu Vaccination Clinics

Free flu vaccinations will be available for students starting next week at various locations around campus. Students are encouraged to sign up online in advance. Information about the clinics, as well as answers to frequently asked questions, are posted online, along with a link for students to register for the vaccination.

Workshop Resource for Students

A new Workshop website provides information on the various workshops and information sessions available to U of M students on campus. The database can be searched by topic, including academic opportunities, academic success, career services, fitness, personal development, scholarship opportunities, and more. In addition to in-person workshop opportunities, the site has links to online workshops. When students are seeking "more information" on topics that may help them succeed, explore careers, get involved on or off campus, or improve their well-being, please suggest they consider opportunities on the Workshop website.

Career Planning

In the next couple of weeks, students will have multiple opportunities to investigate career options and take steps for their future.

  • Health Careers Fair, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 28, Great Hall in Coffman Memorial Union: This fair brings together the various health-related programs offered by the University of Minnesota. Open to all U of M students.
  • Idealist Grad Fair, 5 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 4, Great Hall in Coffman Memorial Union. This career fair is for those considering a career that will further their social-impact in life.  Programs include degrees in social work, public policy, environmental studies, public interest law, nonprofit management, and public health, and more than 70 graduate schools will be represented. Registration is requested.
  • Diversity Networking & Scholarship Event, 3 to 5 p.m., Thursday, October 6, at the University Minneapolis Hotel (formerly Radisson University Hotel). The event is for diverse undergraduate students to network with Twin Cities employers, talk with scholarship experts, and learn about internship opportunities. Registration is free and can be done online.
  • Fashion & Business Career Exhibition, noon to 5 p.m., Friday, October 7, in the North Star Ballroom, St. Paul Student Center: Free event for students interested in careers in fashion. The event features fashion- and design-related businesses that operate in the Twin Cities and beyond, with industry speakers presenting on topics such as branding, résumé building and self-promotion in the fashion business, as well as a fashion show. Representatives will be on hand from more than 30 companies. Students can register online.
  • Graduate and Professional School Day, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 12, Great Hall in Coffman Memorial Union: Students can explore graduate programs from about 100 institutions.
  • CAPE Lite: The Center for Academic Planning & Exploration (CAPE) provides a quick introduction to CAPE coaching for students who are undecided about their academic major. CAPE Lite includes an explanation of the resources and courses offered through CAPE. Students can attend drop-in appointments to learn about the programs available through CAPE. Drop-in hours are noon to 2 p.m., Mondays; 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays; 9 to 11 a.m., Wednesdays; and 10 a.m. to noon Fridays; the office is on the fifth floor of the Science Teaching and Student Services Building.
  • Early Admission for Law School (PDF): University of Minnesota seniors can apply for early admission to the U of M Law School.

Bike Center

The University of Minnesota has opened a new Bike Center housed in the Oak Street Parking Ramp to better serve bicyclists on campus. The Bike Center features an electronic bike route kiosk, secure bike parking, showers, repair services, and more. (Some services are available only to members.) A grand opening for the Bike Center will be from noon to 2 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 29, outside the Oak Street Parking Ramp.

International Student Open House

International students are invited to attend the International Student Open House at Boynton Health Service on September 29, between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. This is an opportunity for international students to make connections with Boynton Health Service staff, other international students, and various University of Minnesota student groups. Registration is requested.

Portrait of the Quiet Student

Parents often worry most about the "quiet" student--the one who prefers to stay in the background, or the student who would rather tolerate an uncomfortable situation than assertively confront it. Those quieter students sometimes seem to take more time creating a circle of friends on campus, but they do successfully adjust, develop deep friendships, and contribute significantly to the classroom environment. The research assistant for the Parent Program has pulled together a webpage of information about quiet students that helps identify how a less outgoing student makes the transition to college and how parents can understand and support that transition.

On the Topic of Helicopter Parents

For several years, the media has been coming up with derogatory names for parents of college students . From helicopters, who are said to hover over their children, to lawnmower parents who mow down anything in their student's path; submarine parents who lurk under the surface, pop up to attack, then disappear again; stealth bomber parents who destroy anything interfering with their student's life; and most recently Tiger Moms, who fiercely protect and train their children.

We want you to know that we see very few U of M parents who could be described as overly-involved in their student's life. In fact, during the past year, we've been more concerned about parents who are becoming so cautious of being labelled as a helicopter than in some cases, they are avoiding involvement when their student might truly need their help.

That line between being too involved and not involved enough can be difficult for families to walk. If you're wondering whether to step back or step in, consider the following questions:

  • Can your student learn something by handling this situation independently? (If yes, leave it up to your student.)
  •  Is this something that most college-aged students could handle? (If yes, leave it up to your student.)
  •  Who has the critical information and the whole story? (If it's your student, leave it up to your student.)
  •  Does your student have a mental or physical health condition that prevents him/her from being able to handle the situation? (If no, leave it up to your student.)
  •  Did your student ask you to be involved? (If no, leave it up to your student.)
  • Parents help when they listen to their student's concerns, then encourage their student to independently contact the appropriate resources, set priorities, and take action.


The first billing payment for tuition and other charges is due October 5. The second billing statement will be issued October 8. Students receive their billing statement via email to their student email account. Details on billing and payment is available through the One Stop website.

Please note: If you have sent an email question or comment to us, but you have not received a reply, it may be because you hit "reply" from a listserv message. Because of security issues, we do not read or respond to listserv replies. Please address messages to rather than using the "reply" function.

Be sure to respond to our Parent Question of the Month for September! And here's the Northrop Mall webcam, courtesy of the College of Science & Engineering.