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Parent Email–November 9, 2011

  • About Winter
  • Student Engagement
  • Parents of Out-of-State Students
  • Miscellaneous

When students are home for the long weekend over Thanksgiving—or the even longer break between semesters starting next month—family dynamics can shift. Even though you will probably be very happy to have all the family's feet under the dinner table again, your student may have his or her own expectations for how to spend time during the break. For families where the student has been away from home for a couple of months, your student's highest priority may be seeing friends and having access to a car. If your student lives at home and commutes to college, you may see frustration about staying home all day with nowhere to go.

In case you haven't yet talked with your student about your expectations and the family schedule for the upcoming break periods, see our Holiday Suggestions. There is information for parents and for students on that webpage.

About Winter

There are still leaves on some of the trees on campus (see the Northrop Mall webcam), but it's just a matter of time. Snow will fall. Streets will need to be plowed. Boots will be the favored footwear.

Each month we post Timely Issues, describing some of the more common concerns that arise among students. Among November's issues are roommate frustrations, registration for spring semester courses, and plans for the holidays.

We also post Seasonal Updates, with information about topics and resources that are particularly relevant for the time of year. The Winter Update is now online.

Students who will be leaving a car on or near campus over winter break must take snow emergencies into account. Rather than hope for the best, or trust that a friend will move the car for them, they can arrange a short-term contract with Parking & Transportation Services to cover the days between the end of fall semester and the start of spring semester.

Student Engagement

We all know that academics are important, and the primary focus for students should be to go to class, complete their homework, and do well on papers, projects, and exams. Much of a student's life, however, takes place outside of the classroom, and the activities students participate in through extra-curricular activities not only enhance their academics but also enrich their lives. With more than 700 student organizations on campus and countless opportunities to do volunteer and service work, both on campus and in the community, the hardest part for students can be limiting their choices and deciding where to start. A "Do What Matters" website helps students sort through the options. Each week, a list of current opportunities is posted on the Do What Matters site.

Parents of Out-of-State Students

This year the University has made a stronger effort to work with first-year students from out of state. These students have been invited to events to meet others from their home state and get to know more staff members. We also asked out-of-state students to tell us what issues they have faced that might be different from students who are close to home.

To add to the information we're gathering, we would like to know what concerns parents have had about sending their student to the University from another state. We would appreciate answers to two questions:

  1. When you first moved your student to the U of M (or to another college or university out of state), what were the top two or three concerns you had about leaving your student so far from home? 
  2. Right now, what are the top two or three concerns you have about your student being far from home? (Please let us know what year your student is now.)

Please send a brief message with your responses to Your insights will help us as we work with families who are facing "distance parenting" in the future. (And we recognize that families from western Wisconsin might be closer to campus than families from western Minnesota. Use your judgment as to what constitutes an uncomfortable distance from the University!)


The Question of the Month for November has been posted on the Parent Program website. Please respond to it—we appreciate your insights.

Last month our Question of the Month asked what concerns your student had discussed with you so far this year. Finances topped the list, followed closely by academics and career planning. A chart summarizing the results is posted on the polling site.