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Parent Email–July 10, 2012

  • Fall 2012 Financial Aid
  • Fall Parking Lottery
  • Volunteer Opportunity
  • Bus Route Survey
  • Summer Resources
  • Judging by Facebook
  • Technology On- and Off-Campus
  • TXT-U Emergency Messages
  • Miscellaneous

A number of parents have signed up for the University Parent listserv recently, and some of you may not have been introduced to the Walter Library/Northrop Mall webcam yet. This tends to be one of the most popular University websites for parents, providing you with a live view of Northrop Mall so that you can track the seasons on campus, see what students are wearing, watch the U of M Juggling Club during the fall and spring, and maybe even catch a glimpse of your student. As you can see if you link to the webcam, it's a beautiful day in our neighborhood today. (And thank you to the College of Science and Engineering for providing the webcam.)

For those who are counting, fall semester begins eight weeks from today, September 4. And that means first-year students will be moving to campus to begin Welcome Week in seven weeks.

Fall 2012 Financial Aid

If your student has not yet completed a 2012-2013 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), please work with her or him to do so as soon as possible. One Stop Student Services will begin emailing fall 2012 financial aid award notices the last week in July. Fall 2012 financial aid will disburse the week before fall semester begins. Students can contact One Stop Student Services for assistance with their financial aid.

Fall Parking Lottery

Parking is at a premium on campus, but students can enter a parking contract lottery for a chance to buy a one-semester, guaranteed space in a specific location. The deadline to enter is July 22, and it is genuinely a lottery. Not all students who enter will receive a space, but they must enter to have a chance.

Volunteer Opportunity

Over the past year, we have been working with the University's career services offices to develop student mentoring opportunities for parents. Parents are now invited to network with and help prepare U of M students for their future careers.

If you would like to serve as a mentor, please register on the University of Minnesota Professional Networking database through GoldPASS. Mentors may interact with students and alumni from the College of Biological Sciences, College of Education and Human Development, College of Liberal Arts, and the College of Science and Engineering. As a mentor, students and alumni may seek your advice and answers to their questions.

Your career or professional background does not need to be within the boundaries of the colleges listed. Students in any of those colleges may benefit from your expertise or from your career preparation history, your networks, or simply your interest in their plans.

Mentors will have opportunities to:

  • Connect and engage with students in their career exploration. This may include informational interviewing, job shadowing, or other activities
  • Build awareness of your organization
  • Get involved on campus
  • Share your own career story

Register now at by clicking the 'Mentor' login button.

If you have questions, please contact a career services office at the U of M.

Bus Route Survey

A non-university company, Campus Connections, is establishing bus routes for students attending a number of colleges and universities in the Upper Midwest, including the University of Minnesota. In order to determine routes, they have asked parents and students to participate in a survey to identify where students need to travel between school and home on holiday weekends. If your student would benefit from a motor coach route between the University and home during Thanksgiving weekend, winter break, spring break, and Easter, please fill out the survey.

Summer Resources

Students who are on or near campus over the summer are encouraged to continue their major and career exploration by visiting the Center for Academic Planning and Exploration (CAPE). Even students who are not on campus can access CAPE services via Skype this summer. CAPE is offering individual appointments both in person and by Skype, Monday through Thursday. This is a particularly good opportunity for undeclared majors who are preparing to enter their second year on campus. Students can make appointments by calling 612-624-3076.

Judging by Facebook

Within the next few weeks, first-year students who will live in the residence halls will be receiving their housing assignments and roommate information. Many apartment renters will also be searching for new roommates, and students are making various other connections to find new friends who share an interest in a sport or activity. After that initial contact, a natural next step is to friend the person on Facebook and check out his or her profile.

We know that parents also will check out a roommate's profile, and sometimes even encourage room-change requests based on what they see online. Please remember, and please remind your student, that Facebook is not necessarily the best information source. Young adults tend to post their most out-of-the-ordinary behaviors and their most dramatic photos online, not the stories and images that show them as they most often act. Online profiles are one-dimensional, and friendships—or simple respect—must be established with multidimensional, real people. Moreover, many college students are looking to change their past image when they come to the University, and they may turn out to be very different than their high school profile indicates. An article, written by a U of M student, on the University Parent website discusses this topic more fully.

Technology On- and Off-Campus

For students moving into an apartment this fall, the following information is particularly relevant, but it's also useful for those moving to a residence hall: The University's UMart website offers discounts on some cell phone and Internet plans. Students can check for discounts, but they must be registered for classes to be eligible to sign into the page. Please encourage your son or daughter to compare costs and services available through that site, and if they have questions, check with vendors. Tell them it never hurts to mention, "I'm a University of Minnesota student. Are there discounts for the U of M?" If they have already signed up for a service included on that website, they can still contact the vendor to ask if it's possible to receive a discount.

In addition, the University Bookstores and the Office of Information Technology (OIT) offer certified laptop bundles for students to purchase at student rates. Hardware and software products are also available. For more information, go to for OIT items; the Bookstores' M-Tech website is at

TXT-U Emergency Messages

TXT-U is the University of Minnesota's emergency notification text messaging system. It is one of several ways the University system provides emergency information to faculty, staff, and students. Although it was previously an "opt-in" system, the University recently changed its service so that all students, staff, and faculty with an active Internet ID and University of Minnesota email address are now automatically added to the TXT-U system. However, only those with cell phone numbers included in their University personal information will receive emergency text messages. To be sure your student will receive TXT-U messages in an emergency, please have your son or daughter verify the listed phone number by going to his or her TXT-U page. If the student's cell phone number changes, he or she will need to visit this page again to update the information. 

The contract the University has with the text service provider designates that only students, staff, and faculty are eligible to sign up for emergency messages. Although parents may not sign up for TXT-U, students may add up to two additional cell phone numbers, so they can designate family members to receive the messages. They can add your number by going to their TXT-U page and adding your cell phone number.

If you were previously signed up for TXT-U messages, please have your student confirm that your number is still included on her or his account.

Students can opt out of the message service--or remove you from the service--by going to their TXT-U page and removing the mobile number, or by texting "STOP" to 67283.

For more information about TXT-U, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page.


Starting tomorrow, the U of M Farmers Market will run every Wednesday until fall, rain or shine, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Church Street on the East Bank. Locally grown produce, berries, and flowers are available.

Students who are still seeking off-campus housing for fall semester can check the off-campus housing website. Before students sign a lease, please encourage them to take the lease to University Student Legal Service. Because students pay a Student Services Fee, they may have a lease reviewed at no charge.

Families from out of town who need to book a hotel near campus can check our "Local Lodging" webpage for hotels that offer discounts to University parents. While we can't verify quality of accommodations, we list hotels that agree to provide a discount when parents identify themselves as parents of U of M students. There may be a limited number of rooms available at discount prices, which means hotels may not have discounted rooms on particularly busy weekends.

On our University Parent website, we ask parents to respond to a monthly online poll, which helps us better understand you, your student, and the issues that families face during the college years. Please check our Question of the Month.