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Parent Email–October 20, 2011

  • Spring Break Service Learning for Parents and Students—Deadline Approaching
  • Seasonal Care Packages
  • When Times Are Tough
  • Upcoming Holidays
  • Holiday Transportation
  • Miscellaneous

It's Homecoming on campus, "All That Glitters Is Gold," and things have been lively all week. The activities continue through Saturday. Tonight is the flag football competition at TCF Stadium. Tomorrow evening's highlights include the Homecoming Parade along University Avenue and a pep rally and hip-hop concert at the stadium, and on Saturday the Gophers will play Nebraska.

Spring Break Service Learning for Parents and Students—Deadline Approaching

Last year, the Minnesota Parents Association introduced a service-learning trip for parents, students, and other family members. On that trip, students, parents, and siblings traveled to Guatemala for a week of volunteer service. They built a house, worked with schoolchildren, and met families and other members of the community in Antigua, Guatemala.

This year, in order to provide a domestic service-learning opportunity, we have added a Spring Break trip for families to work with the Pacific Coast Quileute tribe in Western Washington State. Projects will focus on maintaining the culture and language of the Quileutes and may include building a home, painting, cooking, clearing trails, or recording elder's stories.

The deadline to apply for the Spring Break trip to La Push, Washington, is November 1. For more information and application materials, please see our Service Learning webpage. This service learning trip offers you a chance to spend Spring Break with your student and other family members while learning about yourself, your student, and another culture.

Comments from last year's participants:

“Going as a whole family was a way to see the strengths of my family as individuals and as a whole, which I really enjoyed.”

“It was especially meaningful to participate in our Common Hope experiences as a family. The many extraordinary experiences we had will become a part of the fabric of our family forever.”

“Having this common goal brought [my brother] and I closer together and I saw a side of him that I never saw before.”

Seasonal Care Packages

Gopher Express has introduced new Care Package options, including a Halloween bag that combines healthy snacks with the all-time favorites from your student's Trick or Treating days. Parents can order online, and care packages will be delivered free on campus; delivery can be arranged for off-campus students, or packages can be picked up.

When Times Are Tough

The college years are a time of transition, and it's not unusual for students to feel stress, anxiety, or depression at some point. The changing weather, mid-term exams, and social pressure can affect a student's sense of well-being. Academic and emotional challenges may become evident through decreased academic performance, expressed dissatisfaction with the University, irritability, mood swings, and changes in how your student relates to you as their parent or to other family members. If you notice symptoms in your student that concern you, please take a look at "How to Raise a Sensitive Issue or Approach a Student," written by the director of University Counseling & Consulting Services.

Upcoming Holidays

Every year we see students celebrating Halloween by drinking too much, making poor judgements, and ending up with injuries or police citations. The anonymity that a mask or costume provides convinces students they can get away with more than usual. Please have a conversation with your student about your expectations related to partying and drinking. Research has shown that parents' expectations can outweigh peer pressure in students' behaviors.

Thanksgiving break is scheduled for November 24-27. Classes are held on the Wednesday before the break, and that includes Wednesday evening classes. Some instructors may cancel Wednesday evening classes, but that decision is up to the instructor. If students plan to miss classes, they should let their instructor know and determine whether the class can be made up. Students are responsible for any material presented in class, whether they attend or not.

The last day of instruction for fall semester is Wednesday, December 14, with exams scheduled from December 16 to 22. Students have received their final exam schedule for each of their classes. That information is listed in the syllabus for the course, handed out on the first day of classes. The schedule is also posted online. (Note: Students should confirm exam times with their instructor or check the course syllabus.)

Holiday Transportation

A new bus service, Campus Connections, offers holiday break transportation from the East and West Banks of campus to destinations including Madison, WI., and Rockford, and Chicago, Ill.;  Fargo and Grand Forks, N.D.; and Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Mt. Vernon, IA. The service is available only around holiday breaks. For other transportation options for non-Metro area students, see the Parent Program's Transportation webpage.


The second billing statement for fall semester is due November 2. The third statement will be emailed to students who have an outstanding balance on November 5.

Please respond to our monthly Parent Question of the Month. We appreciate your input.