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Parent Email–October 8, 2012

  • Mid-Term Alerts
  • Parents Weekend Evaluation
  • Josten's Ring Event
  • More on Strengths (and Guatemala)
  • Dakota Sacred Sites Tour
  • Flu Shots
  • Facebook Goal Surpassed
  • Parents' Role in Student Success
  • Success Over Stress (
  • Graduate and Professional School Day
  • Miscellaneous

It's Homecoming! The Homecoming Committee must have been busy all weekend, writing "LegendaryU"  with multicolored chalk on nearly every walkable bit of pavement around campus. The activities started this past Saturday on the St. Paul campus and expand to the East and West Banks today. It all leads up to the Homecoming football game Saturday, Oct. 13, against Northwestern, then culminates in ThankU day on Sunday, Oct. 14. For those who appreciate the Northrop webcam, link to the site at 11 a.m. this coming Sunday to watch as volunteers gather to take part in community service projects.

Mid-Term Alerts

It's not all fun and (Homecoming) games this week. We are officially in the middle part of the semester, and students are either taking mid-terms, have already taken them, or are going to take them soon. This raises stress levels, and some students may be disappointed to  find they have received a grade that doesn't match their expectations. A significant purpose of mid-terms is to give students a reality check on how they're doing and what's expected of them in college coursework. Students who are in 1000-level classes will receive mid-term alerts if their grade at the mid-point of the semester indicates that they are on track to receive a D, F, or N (N=not calculated, but is essentially the same as F).

Too often, when students discover they are facing academic problems, the reaction is simply, "I'll try harder." If the study methods they're using are not appropriate for the course, doing more of the same thing will probably not help. They may need to learn different study techniques or take a step back and learn some basic information they missed earlier in the semester. The University offers multiple academic resources that can help.

Success Over Stress

In the majority of cases, when students are having trouble with their coursework , it's not because they don't have the academic ability to succeed at the University of Minnesota. It's because of challenges with time management, study skills, adjustment to a new lifestyle (including starting college or living in an apartment for the first time), expectations about friends and social life, financial concerns, or health issues. The University's Rothenberger Institute offers one-credit courses that help students make the adjustment to college. Spaces are still available in the Success Over Stress class offered for the Fall second 7-week session, which starts on October 23. Students can register for the class through the One Stop website.

Parents Weekend Evaluation

If you attended any events during Parents Weekend on September 28-30, including Josten's Junior-Senior Dinner, please take a moment to respond to our post-event survey. The survey, which will take about 5-10 minutes to complete, asks about your participation in and satisfaction with Parents Weekend, including communications, activities, and events. Your input will help us make decisions about future events. Note: Your responses on the first two questions of the survey determine which questions you receive on the remainder of the survey. Please read the questions and answers carefully and respond accordingly.


International Service Learning

You and your student, as well as other family members who are 16 or over, are invited to participate in a Service Learning Trip to Guatemala. The Minnesota Parents Association (MPA) is sponsoring our third annual, international service learning trip to Guatemala during Spring Break, March 16-23, 2013. This program is a collaboration between the MPA, the University's Learning Abroad Center, and Common Hope, a nonprofit organization that supports families and education in Guatemala

Members of a volunteer Vision Team will participate in a variety of activities based on the interests and skills of the team members, as well as on the needs of the local community. Opportunities include building a house for a family; working in medical clinics or a pharmacy; leading activities in schools, library, and daycare; and visiting families in their homes with a social worker. Vision Team members not only help families in need, but also experience and celebrate many aspects of Guatemalan culture hidden to tourists.

This year, Vision Team members will have the opportunity to take the StrengthsFinder assessment prior to the trip. The assessment identifies a participant's top five talents, and projects that the team works on during the week will incorporate members' strengths.

Space for the Vision Team is limited, and the priority deadline is November 1. For more information, see the following:

What past participants have said about the experience

Photos from the 2012 Trip

Application information

If you have questions, please contact Chelsea Petree at or call 612-626-8770.

Dakota Sacred Sites Tour

As part of the Saturday program for Parents Weekend, a University professor from the Department of American Indian Studies spoke to families about the Dakota nation's historical connection to the land where the University and the Twin Cities now stand. Along the same vein, a tour of Native American sacred sites will be offered from 3 to 6:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday, October 11 and 12, starting from the U of M. The tour visits several sites in the Twin Cities area that have special meaning to Native Americans. Register soon.

Flu Shots

Flu vaccine is now being administered at convenient locations all around campus. Encourage your student to make an appointment for a free vaccination, or stop by any of the locations to see if an appointment is available.

Facebook Goal Surpassed

In a recent parent email, we asked for parents' help in achieving our goal of having 2,013 Facebook "likes"  before January 1, 2013. We reached that 2,013 mark at 5:43 p.m., Friday, September 25! Thank you to all our University of Minnesota Parent Program Facebook friends. And for those of you who attended Parents Weekend, check out the Facebook photo album from the weekend.

Parents' Role in Student Success

In our recent parent e-mails, we have been discussing the University of Minnesota's Parent/Family Outcomes, which are intended to facilitate discussion about appropriate and successful family involvement during the college years. The University of Minnesota believes that family members play a significant role in student success.

For several years, the media has been creating unfortunate names for parents of college students . Parents are called names ranging from helicopters, who are said to hover over their children, to lawnmower parents who mow down anything in their student's path; submarine parents who lurk under the surface, pop up to attack, then disappear again; stealth bomber parents who destroy anything interfering with their student's life; and most recently Tiger Moms, who fiercely protect and train their children.

We want you to know that we see very few U of M parents who could be described as overly-involved in their student's life. In fact, during the past year, we've been more concerned about parents who are becoming so cautious of being labelled as a helicopter that, in some cases, they are avoiding involvement when their student might truly need their help.

That line between being too involved and not involved enough can be difficult for families to walk. If you're wondering whether to step back or step in, consider the following questions:

  • Can your student learn something by handling this situation independently? (If yes, leave it up to your student.)
  • Is this something that most college-aged students could handle? (If yes, leave it up to your student.)
  • Does your student have a mental or physical health condition that prevents him/her from being able to handle the situation? (If no, leave it up to your student.)
  • Did your student ask you to be involved? (If no, leave it up to your student.)

Parents help when they listen to their student's concerns, then encourage their son or daughter to independently contact the appropriate resources, set priorities, and take action.

Graduate and Professional School Day

One more reminder that Thursday, October 18, is Graduate and Professional School Day. Students who plan to continue their education beyond the undergraduate years will find help from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. in the Great Hall, Coffman Union. More than 100 graduate and professional programs from throughout the country will be represented at this free event. Students can browse for information on their own or talk to school representatives. Please pass along to your student the details, preparation tips, and a list of participating schools by clicking here. This event is free and open to all U of M students. It's coordinated by CLA Career Services.


The second billing statement for Fall semester was emailed to students on October 6. Payment is due October 31.

Not all the Homecoming activities are listed on the official homecoming website. University Bookstores have their own schedule, and since the University Bookstores and Josten's were key sponsors of Parents Weekend, we're giving them a plug:

  • Josten's will have a Class Ring Sale (40% off) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., October 10-12 at the Bookstore in Coffman Union.
  • A Balloon Sale at the Bookstores will have customers popping balloons for discounts ranging from 20-80% on October 11-13.
  • Most exciting, at least for me, is the Fall Fashion Show at 4 p.m., Thursday, October 11 at the Coffman Bookstores. Along with some U of M VIPs—Karen Kaler, wife of President Eric Kaler, and the wives of several coaches, including Rebecca Kill, Donna Smith, and Joyce Lucia—I get to be one of the models! If you're in the neighborhood, please come see me in my modeling debut. (I'll be dressed in gold. The color, not the metal.)

Also Homecoming related: Everyone can contribute to a new tradition and help build a campus legacy by supporting the bronze Goldy Gopher statue campaign. Donate $2 and receive a "Leave a Legacy" bracelet at any Student Unions & Activities retail location. The effort is a student-driven fundraising initiative. The holidays are coming—tell your student you'd like a "Leave a Legacy" band bracelet.

Please respond to our monthly Parent Question of the Month. Last month we asked where your student is likely to vote on November 6. Most parents indicated their student will vote with an absentee ballot from home or at their home precinct. Students who live on or near campus are eligible to vote in a campus-area precinct, and students living in residence halls will receive voting information on where they can vote. Information on student voting is available online.