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Parent Email–October 3, 2011

  • Mid-terms
  • Money Matters
  • Career Planning
  • Parents Weekend Follow-up
  • Heating in the Residence Halls
  • Parents' Role in Student Success
  • Annual Cereal Election Results
  • Miscellaneous

We have bonus weather on campus! Sunny, warm days are predicted for the whole week, meaning students will be lounging on the Mall, using laptops outdoors, and connecting via wi-fi to the Internet. No need to head indoors to study. Here's the Northrop Mall webcam, and thank you, College of Science and Engineering, for a view out of the Walter Library window.


Although there are no specific dates for mid-term tests, most mid-terms are scheduled between the fourth and eighth week of classes. Some courses have two mid-terms; some have none. Many instructors quiz or test students at more regular intervals throughout the semester.

Still, this is the time when most students are taking their first big test or a handing in their first major project. Stress levels rise, and for first-year students. this is when they face a reality check on how much studying is actually required, whether they are keeping up with the material, and how they compare with other students in their classes.

In 1xxx-level classes (introductory coursework), instructors will send a mid-term alert to students who are earning a D, F, or N (no grade) in their courses. These alerts are posted between the fourth and eighth week of classes, and students are notified by email that they are in danger of failing the course. The alert is also sent to the student's academic adviser. Instructors may choose to notify all students of the grades they are currently receiving, but they are not required to notify students unless they are in danger of failing.

Students who receive an alert are encouraged to talk with their instructor about how to improve their grade. Academic support is available through a number of offices and services.

With the added stress, this might be a good time to send your student a card or a care package!

Money Matters

The due date for the first installment for fall semester payments is October 5. Students who still owe on their bill will receive an email statement on October 8 for the second installment.

The Parent Program website includes a Money Matters section with information about costs, loans, scholarships, and more. Students can conduct an online Scholarship Search, which will search out scholarships specific to the student's personal and academic profile.

Career Planning

It's always interesting to note the various kinds of job- and career-related events available on and around campus.

  • Learning and Leadership in Food (and Student Networking Workshop): Friday, October 7, 2011; Student Networking Workshop 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.; Program 11 to 4 p.m.; Reception 4-5 p.m., Maroon & Gold Room, McNamara Alumni Center. The Learning and Leadership in Food event brings together the University community and food industry professionals to meet each other and learn about issues related to effective food system leadership. This annual event explores the complex food system, shares University research and industry expertise, and offers ideas that will generate innovative leadership on food system issues.  Students are asked to register.
  • Discovering Federal Jobs & Internships: A three-part webinar for students interested in government work. Part One: Find Your Federal Dream Job or Internship, 4 to 5 p.m., Tuesday, October 4, 432B STSS building; Part 2: Apply for the Position That's Right for You, 2 to 3 p.m., Wednesday, October 12, 303 Appleby Hall; Part Three: Know Your Next Steps, 3 to 4 p.m., Thursday, October 20, 335 Nicholson Hall. No registration is required. Students can check with their career office for details.

Parents Weekend Follow-up

Parents Weekend 2011 featured the best weather we've ever had for Parents Weekend. (In past years, we've posted temperatures in the 90s one year, as well as freezing rain and snow in other years, plus a few nice fall days—but never have we had three perfect autumn days in a row.)

Parents Weekend is a student-run event, and our Lead Coordinator for the weekend, Emily Lammers, did a fabulous job of organizing activities, food, and a student volunteer committee, pulling off an event for some 1,500+ family members.

Photos from the weekend are posted on our University of Minnesota Parent Program Facebook page. In addition to images from throughout the weekend, pictures from the photo segment of the Scavenger Hunt are included in the Parents Weekend 2011 Album on the Facebook page. (You will need to sign in to your Facebook account—and while you're there, please "like" us.

Heating University Buildings

The facilities supervisor for the residence halls is delivering information to students about the transition from cooling to heating in the buildings. While the information he provides is geared to residence hall buildings, it also reflects the process for many other campus buildings. Through various media, res hall students are hearing the following message:

    As we enter the transition between summer and winter temperatures, heating of the residence halls becomes a concern. Because of the design and size of the heating systems, they cannot be turned off and on daily to satisfy the large daytime and nighttime temperature variations.
    If heating is turned on prematurely, it can cause great discomfort in buildings. We turn the heating systems on when outside nighttime temperatures consistently fall into the upper thirties to lower forties (usually mid-October). We try to gauge as closely as possible when this will occur by monitoring daily and long-range weather forecasts. It is during this transition period that the residence halls can be quite warm during the day and quite cool at night.
    We therefore ask for everyone’s patience during this transition period and request that residents ensure that all windows (including storm windows) are closed tightly at night and that they use additional blankets and clothing as necessary until the heat is turned on.

Students can contact their residence hall information desk or the facilities staff with any questions.

Parents' Role in Student Success

In the past few parent email messages, we have discussed several of our University of Minnesota Parent/Family Outcomes. We developed these outcomes to facilitate discussion among parents, students, and University staff about appropriate and successful family involvement during the college years. Previous emails talked about parents' role in understanding the student experience and knowing the resources available on campus; supporting the University's goals for student learning; and determining when to empower your student to take responsibility and when to step in and help.

We also want to emphasize that we consider parents part of our University community. We hope that you feel a sense of pride in and connection with the University and that you are comfortable attending and participating in campus events. Our students benefit from the encouragement they receive from all members of the University, including the families of their peers, as they learn, perform, lead, and serve through campus and community activities.

The Parent Program's primary goal is to provide family members with information about the University and the student experience so that you are able to support your student. We also hope you will use the information we provide to help other families as they prepare their students for college or as they work with students who are in college—at the U of M or elsewhere. Finally, we hope that if you have a good understanding of the University, campus services, the typical stages of student development, and campus issues, you will serve as advocates for higher education and for the U of M at the state and federal level.

Annual Cereal Election

Each year, students living in the residence halls are invited to vote for their favorite cereals, and the top vote getters are offered in all residence halls throughout the year. More than 2,700 students voted this year, the tenth year of the annual vote, and the winners are:

  • Frosted Flakes
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch
  • Lucky Charms
  • Reese's Puffs
  • Apple Jacks
  • Cap N' Crunch
  • Honey Nut Cheerios
  • Life
  • Frosted Mini Wheats
  • Special K With Red Berries
  • Kashi Go Lean Crunch
  • Rice Chex (Gluten Free)

Although this is a popular election, the rule is that at least some of the cereals must be "healthy" and non-sweetened.


A reminder that flu shot clinics begin this week at Boynton Health Service. Students can make an appointment for a free flu inoculation.

Each fall, the University of Minnesota Police Department releases its annual publication "Safety and Security on Campus" in compliance with federal law. This publication provides the campus community with annual campus crime statistics and fire safety reports for the Minneapolis and St. Paul Campus.

The University of Minnesota takes the safety of our students, staff, and visitors very seriously. In addition to increasing the number of police officers, UMPD maintains continuous coordination with the Minneapolis Police Department, made improvements to lighting, video surveillance and other security infrastructure on campus, and strengthened relationships with the surrounding communities. Through crime alerts and outreach efforts, UMPD continues to strive in educating our community about safety and security issues on and around campus. Students, staff, and campus guests are asked to notify the University of Minnesota Police Department when suspicious activities are observed on campus.

We have posted the October Parent Question of the Month on our University Parent website. Please take a moment to respond. The September question asked parents how much influence they think they should have on their student's career choice.  Most parents think they should have at least a little influence. We appreciate your responses to our monthly questions, and we use your input to develop information for parents, and we communicate with our colleagues around campus to let them know what you're thinking.