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Parent Email—March 10, 2011

  • Zimride
  • Financial Update
  • Spring Graduates
  • Career Preparation
  • Miscellaneous

As students get ready for Spring Break (March 14-18), they are facing deadlines for major papers and mid-term exams. The major topic of conversation seems to be that they can't wait to have time off to relax. Not all students are headed to warm beaches or comfortable homes for break. More than 200 Gophers will be joining hundreds of other college and university students in a service-learning bus tour with the group Students Today, Leaders Forever (STFL). STFL was started eight years ago by a group of U of M freshmen who wanted to "Pay It Forward" doing volunteer work during their Spring Break. The idea has evolved into a national, non-profit organization, led by some of those former U of M students, with chapters at more than two dozen campuses, and with tours that reach out to college, high school, and middle school students.


Students can find other U of M students going to the airport or out of town through the Zimride site specifically serving the University of Minnesota community. If they find a rideshare, they can snap a photo and send their story to and get some ZimSwag (shirts and sunglasses)!

Financial Update

The second billing statement for Spring Semester is due March 16. The full list of Spring Semester billing dates and payment deadlines is online.

If you have completed your federal income taxes, be sure to work with your student on filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).The priority target date for filing for returning students is April 1. That does not mean that April 2 is too late to file, but students who file by April 1 receive priority for some types of student aid that is more limited.

Spring Graduates

  • GradFest, the one-stop shop for commencement, is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday, March 23, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday, March 24, in the Great Hall at Coffman Union. Parents are invited to attend with their graduating seniors. At GradFest, students can pick up their cap and gown, order graduation announcements, pose for a commencement photo, have their resume evaluated, find out how to get ready for graduate school, and more. The event is sponsored by the University Bookstore.
  • All University of Minnesota spring graduates and their families are invited to an open house reception, hosted by President Robert Bruininks and his wife, Susan Hagstrum, at Eastcliff, the home of University presidents. Two receptions are scheduled on Sunday, May 15: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., and 5:30 to 7 p.m. To make reservations or receive additional information, call 612-624-6868 or email before May 12.
  • Students who are eligible for, and who have applied for, graduation will receive information about their commencement ceremony from their college office and can talk to their academic adviser about any questions they may have. Most of the colleges have their commencement ceremonies listed online. If your student's college is not listed on the Commencement website, please have your son or daughter contact his or her college office for details.

Career Preparation

  • Students thinking of a career in health sciences can take a University course to help them find a good fit. The Health Careers Center website lists options for students to take to investigate the range of jobs in health careers and research.
  • Any students who have not yet decided on a major might check out the Career and Internship Services website to get some tips on how to think about the decision process. Then they can visit the Center for Academic Planning and Exploration in the Science Teaching and Student Services building for individualized support in career planning.
  • While selecting a major and a career is a student decision, parents play a critical support role. An online slide show offers suggestions for parents as their student works through the choices.


Each month we ask parents to respond to our Parent Question of the Month. The February question was, "According to some sources, about two-thirds of college graduates in the United States moved home when they finished college last year. How likely do you think it is that your student will move home (or stay home) at least for a while after graduation?"

Among U of M parents, about 40 percent said it was rather unlikely or not at all likely that their student will move home. Just under a third said they thought it "somewhat unlikely" that their student would be back, but almost 30 percent said it's very likely or certain that their student will come home after graduation. Comments reflected the belief that the national economy, the high rate of unemployment, and the rising rates of student loans meant that students would be unable to support themselves when they graduate. A reassuring note from the national data: of U.S. students who returned home last summer, 82 percent said they were only back for the summer or until they found a job.

Your responses to the February Question of the Month will be included in a presentation at a national conference of student affairs/student services administrators next week. The poll is not a scientific study, but because of the quality and quantity of responses and comments, it's considered worthy of note. We do use your input!

Please check out the Question of the Month for March.

Our Timely Issues webpage offers some ideas of what your student might be thinking about this month.

At the beginning of this message, we mentioned students who are doing a service learning tour for break. We also have a group of parents and students traveling to Guatemala next week on a service trip, organized by Common Hope, the U of M Parent Program, and the University's Learning Abroad Center. The group will work with local schools and community groups to support and enhance education and health in Antigua. The University of Minnesota Parent Program's Facebook page will be updated with photos of the group in Guatemala.

Finally, we hope that over the next week, you can watch the snow melt on Northrop Mall if you look at the College of Science and Engineering's webcam.

Marjorie Savage
Parent Program Director
University of Minnesota