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Parent Email–February 17, 2012

  • Financial Update
  • Spring Break March 12-16
  • Link-Up Mentoring
  • Peer Research Assistance
  • Parents Weekend 2012: Student Volunteers Wanted
  • Miscellaneous

Every two years we make a personal request of U of M parents. Please take 15 minutes to respond to our biennial Parent Survey. We have been surveying parents since the mid-1990s, and the information we have gathered has been our guide to what parents want and need as they support their U of M students. The results of this year's survey will be used to improve programs and services for all parents of U of M students.

As a way to thank you for participating, one of the last questions on the survey invites you to enter a drawing for the following prizes:

The survey is anonymous. Providing your contact information is optional and will be used only to notify winners of the drawing. Thank you for helping us by taking the survey.

Financial Update

  • The Volunteer Tax Assistance Program (VTAP) will prepare a student's tax return, completely free of charge, until April 15, 2012. To be eligible, the student's unadjusted gross income must be less than $49,000. VTAP requests that students make an appointment online, but walk-ins are accepted. Students must have all the proper documentation in preparation for their appointment. All appointments are in the Undergraduate Career Center on Herbert M. Hanson Hall’s second floor (West Bank). For information see the VTAP website.
  • The second billing statement for spring semester will be emailed to students who have an outstanding balance on Saturday, February 18. Payment for the second billing will be due by March 14.
  • A reminder: When you fill out your income taxes, be sure to also work with your student on filling out the FAFSA form. Many families that don't believe they qualify for financial aid find that they do. The deadline for priority filing (for returning students) is April 15.
  • Students with questions or concerns about money management can find student-targeted information about financial management on the One Stop website.

Spring Break March 12-16

The way students mark spring break can have a number of variations. The longstanding image of beach destinations with mass parties is certainly one option, but students are equally likely to choose to spend the week at home, participate in a service learning trip, or stay on campus to catch up on studies

For those whose students are considering a beach destination or trip abroad, please remind your student that "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Students who are considering booking a package deal should ask for specific information: name of the airline they will be flying, name of the hotel where they will be staying, total cost, any restrictions that apply, and if there are cancellation penalties. The Minnesota Attorney General's office provides tips for avoiding Spring Break Scams.

Residence halls are open during spring break, and students who live on campus may stay in their room at no additional expense. Dining centers in the residence halls will be closed. The last residence hall meal before spring break will be a Grab 'n Go dinner on Friday, March 9; dining will resume with brunch on Sunday, March 18. Some on-campus retail dining locations will be open (in Coffman Union and some classroom buildings), and students can use FlexDine associated with their meal plans at those locations. Those sites are generally not open during evening hours.

Link-Up Mentoring

First-year students are invited to take part in the Link-Up program that pairs freshmen with an upperclassman in her or his college, or who has a common interest such as graduate school, an extracurricular activity, or a career goal. The program is run by students, for students, and is designed to help freshmen have a more successful and enjoyable first year.

Students who are in their second year or higher at the University are invited to apply to serve as a mentor for the program.

Peer Research Assistance

Most students will need to work on research projects or papers during their academic career. They can receive free help from Peer Research Consultants, as part of the University Libraries services. Peer consultants will guide students in narrowing a research topic and creating a thesis statement, seeking out articles and resources, and evaluating websites and other information.

Peer research assistance is just one of many academic support services available to students.

Parents Weekend 2012: Student Volunteers Wanted

As we plan Parents Weekend for next fall, we're looking for students who can help develop and coordinate activities and projects for the weekend. Membership on the volunteer committee will give students leadership and skill development opportunities. Students will work with a team of volunteers, gaining special event and marketing experience, communication skills, time management, and organizational skills. Volunteers should be current students who will continue their academic studies at the U of M next fall. Information and a link to an application form are online. Please encourage your student to consider applying for the committee--the deadline for applications is February 29. Parents Weekend is scheduled for September 28-30.


  • President Eric Kaler will be presenting his first State of the University address at 3:30 p.m. (Central time) on Thursday, March 1, in the Coffman Theater. Parents are invited to attend or watch a live web stream of the talk. Instructions for the web stream will be posted online the day of the presentation.
  • Please visit the University Parent website and respond to our Question of the Month.
  • What's the real value of a learning abroad program? The U of M's Learning Abroad Center has established a YouTube page, Digital Stories by Study Abroad Students, that provides brief narratives about some of our scholars' experiences.
  • What's happening on campus today? You could check the U of M Events Calendar, or you could see if there's anything happening on Northrop Mall by looking at the College of Science and Engineering's webcam. And just for your information, if you view the webcam page early in the morning at this time of year, when the sun is rising, you may get a reflection off the Walter Library window where the camera is located. If that happens, wait a minute or so, and the camera will pivot so that the reflection is not a problem.