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Parent Email–September 25, 2012

  • Fall in the Air
  • Career Services
  • Learn and Earn: Upcoming UROP deadline
  • Strengths at the U
  • Holiday Transportation
  • Parents' Role in Student Success
  • Common Book: Author Talk
  • Voter Registration
  • Workshop Resource for Students
  • Miscellaneous

Students are fully in the swing of Fall Semester, and in most cases, they're excited and thriving. For some students, however, the stress of the transition to college—or for upperclassmen, anxiety about selecting a major or preparing for next steps—can create academic and emotional challenges. When family members see a significant and potentially serious change in a student's behavior or attitude for the first time, it maybe difficult to find a way to begin a discussion about what you're noticing. Our University Counseling & Consulting Services director, Glenn Hirsch, has prepared information for parents on How to Raise a Sensitive Issue to help families start discussions on difficult topics.

For a view of campus this afternoon, take a look through the Walter Library window onto Northrop Mall.

Fall in the Air

As the weather makes its annual transition from warm to cold, engineers and maintenance staff all around campus are adjusting heating and cooling systems in some very large buildings. One of our favorite residence hall staff members, Tim Hoaglund, has sent out his annual "weather transition" announcement, which he would like us to pass along to parents:

  • "Because of the design and size of the heating systems, they cannot be turned off and on daily to satisfy the large daytime and nighttime temperature variations. If heating is turned on prematurely, it can cause great discomfort in buildings.
    "We turn the heating systems on when outside nighttime temperatures consistently fall into the upper thirties to lower forties (usually mid-October). We try to gauge as closely as possible when this will occur by monitoring daily and long-range weather forecasts. It is during this transition period that the residence halls can be quite warm during the day and quite cool at night.
    "We therefore ask for everyone’s patience during this transition period and request that residents ensure that all windows (including storm windows) are closed tightly at night and that (students) use additional blankets and clothing as necessary until the heat is turned on."

What Tim describes regarding the residence halls is also a factor in many classroom buildings. Changeovers take time, and the temperature varies significantly in autumn in Minnesota. The recommendation for students is layered clothing.

Career Services

A recent study conducted by the  National Association of Colleges and Employers suggests that although most college and university students are prepared academically to succeed in their first full-time jobs after graduation, a majority of graduates do not have the skills necessary to find that first job. Students who use their career centers on campus to develop job search skills are likely to have a significant advantage, simply by developing a good resume, knowing how to write a letter of application, and having practiced interview techniques. Encourage your student, especially juniors and seniors, to make full use of the services available to them through their college's Career Center.

Students considering graduate or professional education are invited to attend the Graduate and Professional School Day event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday, October 18, in the Great Hall of Coffman Union. All students are encouraged to attend; participants can speak with representatives from law, business, education, health sciences, and other graduate and professional programs. The event will also feature workshops on how to apply for graduate school and how to write an effective personal statement. The event is coordinated by CLA Career Services.

Learn and Earn: Upcoming UROP deadline

The next deadline to apply for an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program grant of up to $1700 is October 8. This funding round is for spring semester 2013 projects. Visit the web: Students can find the answers to their questions as well as all forms and the links to submit an application.

Strengths at the U

The University of Minnesota is using a Strengths approach on campus to enhance student engagement and well-being. When students take the Strengths assessment, they learn their top five strengths and how those strengths relate to their academic, social, and personal life. This year, the University is focusing on one of the 34 identified strengths each week for 34 weeks. In recognition of Parents Weekend, this week's feature includes a student and her mother talking about the Relator strength.

Holiday Transportation

Earlier this year, we asked parents to respond to a survey for Campus Connections, a bus service investigating holiday bus routes between Minneapolis and surrounding states. Based on your responses, several routes have been scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend. If you are interested in this service, see the Campus Connections website for information.

A note: The University is not a partner with Campus Connections. In most cases, we do not promote private businesses. At the same time, however, we know that transportation is an important issue for parents, and that many families are seeking this kind of information. Other transportation services can be researched online, and the University provides a rideshare network called Zimride, accessible only to U of M students, staff, and faculty. Students who are looking for a ride, or who would like to find riders, can access Zimride at no cost.

Parents' Role in Student Success

In our last email, we discussed how parents contribute to student success when they understand the student experience, support student learning, and empower students to take personal responsibility for their social and academic choices. In order to help parents understand those steps at the college level, the University of Minnesota has developed a set of Desired Outcomes for Parent/Family Involvement to help facilitate appropriate and successful family involvement during the college years.

The second of our outcomes asks parents to support the University's guidelines for student learning and development. College is all about personal growth and discovery. Students gain critical skills when they set and achieve their own goals and make responsible decisions related to their academics, career planning, social interactions, and community engagement. A major part of student development during the college years is the process of examining personal values and learning about the values and beliefs of others. There will be times when students face uncertainty as they make decisions and as they compare their beliefs with those of their friends and classmates. As tempting as it may be for parents to set ground rules and boundaries for their students, the reality is that students will be making decisions and choices based not only on family history and expectations, but also on the academic, social, and practical influences they experience on campus. By thinking through their values, goals, and choices, students' beliefs become more deeply ingrained as part of their core identity.

It is almost inevitable that at some point, college students will face disappointments, and they will make mistakes. It's a natural reaction for parents to want to prevent their child's disappointments and protect them from the consequences of their mistakes, but students do need to accept personal responsibility for their choices. Parents help most when they encourage their student to examine their disappointments and look hard at the unexpected outcomes. Encourage your student to assess what caused the problems, consider what can be done to improve a difficult situation, and take steps to avoid similar problems in the future.

Common Book: Author Talk

This summer we mentioned that two colleges within the University had assigned a common book to first-year students, and we recommended the readings for parents. One of the colleges, the College of Education and Human Development, assigned The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, by Wes Moore. The book describes two boys, both named Wes Moore, growing up in similar circumstances four blocks apart, but leading to very different outcomes as adults. The author will be presenting a talk on campus next month, and parents are invited to attend. Wes Moore will participate in a three-part discussion at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, October 30, at Ted Mann Concert Hall. The format will include an opening talk by Mr. Moore, a student-led question session, and open questions from the audience.

In addition, there are free public tours based on Mr. Moore's book at the Minnesota Institute of Art throughout November, scheduled at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays. The "book tours" are described as "lively discussions of art related to popular books."

Voter Registration

Over the next 40-some days, students will be receiving information and lots of social networking messages on voter registration. The University Libraries has posted general information on voter registration. For early registration, students must sign up by October 16.

Workshop Resource for Students

A Workshop website provides information on a number of online workshops available to U of M students on campus. When students are seeking "more information" on topics that may help them succeed academically, explore careers, get involved on or off campus, or improve their well-being, please suggest that they consider opportunities available on the Workshop website.


Those who are registered for Parents Weekend, this coming weekend, should have received an email, phone call, or letter this week with final instructions. Registration for the weekend has closed.

As the seasons change, so does the information parents need to know. We provide a Seasonal Update for parents on the Parent website that includes a campus calendar and resources that are most appropriate for this time of the year.

If you have not yet responded to the September Question of the Month, please do!

Last month, we said that we were hoping to have 2,013 "likes" on the University of Minnesota Parent Program's Facebook page. At the time, we were at roughly 1,500 "likes." This afternoon, we have 1,998. We're nearly there. If you have a Facebook page but have not yet "liked" us, please help get us over our goal! (Sign on to your facebook page and link to University of Minnesota Parent Program.) All the cool parents like us.