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Parent Email–October 18, 2012

  • Food Day
  • Parents' Collective Wisdom
  • Freshman Seminars Abroad
  • When Times Are Tough
  • Upcoming Holidays
  • Fall Care Packages
  • Parents' Role in Student Success
  • Common Book
  • LGBT Parents: Survey Request
  • Miscellaneous

As temperatures are dropping and daylight grows shorter, it's human nature to move more quickly outdoors. With the number of bicyclists, pedestrians, skate boarders, and rollerbladers on campus, all rushing to cross streets and get to a destination, accidents happen. To add to the danger, about one of every three students is talking on a cell phone, listening to music, or texting—including those who are texting or talking while riding a bike or a skateboard.  We tell students not to use headphones or a cell phone at night, especially when walking alone, but if you learn your student is talking or texting while walking at any time, please encourage her or him to wait until arriving at a destination, then get in touch. Students who must walk alone at night are encouraged to use the Campus Escort Service.

Watch the activity on campus today, and see if you can count the number of students using their cell phones, by checking the Northrop Mall Webcam.

Food Day

It's just common sense that students are healthier and better prepared to learn when they eat well. Next week is the University's Food Day 2012 (actually two days), an event featuring presentations, symposiums, and eating, all focusing on health, nutrition, and sustainability. With the theme of "Food: Good for eating—Good for thinking," the event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday, October 23, at the Great Hall in Coffman Union. A local chef will provide a cooking demonstration, and multiple vendors will be talking about how to grow plants in a residence hall room, providing a sustainability wheel game, offering a Food Day pledge, and helping participants understand what dinner costs. On Wednesday, October 24, the event moves to the Coffman Theater, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and features two-hour time blocks being led by various partners of Food Day 2012. Food Day 2012 is sponsored by U Students Like Good Food with support from the Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute.

Parents' Collective Wisdom

The Food Day notice brings us to a project we've been thinking about for some time. We would like to invite parents to send us the information you hope your student knows when he or she leaves home, moves to an apartment, or is otherwise setting out in the world. We have several categories where we know that parents have expertise—and that sometimes students struggle with—but we would like to start by asking for your favorite recipes. When students move into an apartment and begin making their own meals, their cooking repertoire might be rather limited. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Ramen noodles, a can of soup, or a frozen pizza might seem like the quickest and most affordable options, but there are plenty of easy, inexpensive recipes that could offer more variety and healthier meals.

So, please send your favorite recipes to You can help us out by providing the following:

  • Include "Collective Wisdom" in the subject line of your email
  • Name of recipe
  • Your name (if you prefer not to include your name, at least your initials)
  • Category (select from the following or suggest your own category): Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Low-Budget Recipes, Family Traditions, Spice of Life (Ethnic Foods), Students' Favorites, Comfort Food/Get Well Soon
  • Recipe listing generic ingredients (not trade names, if possible), measured amounts, cooking time (if relevant), cooking temperature, and approximate cost of ingredients (if possible)
  • Include a sentence or two about the recipe describing why you're suggesting it or why your student likes it

Even if your student is fully prepared for independent living, your tips may be just what another student needs. As we collect recipes and other tips from parents, we will post your Collective Wisdom online and make it available to students. Please send your submissions to

We will coordinate this project with the U Students Like Good Food organization.

Freshman Seminars Abroad

The University's Freshman Seminars Abroad combine on-campus instruction during spring semester with a study abroad component during spring break. Seminars are 3 credits at the 19xx level, and most fulfill a liberal education requirement. Information on the seminars offered for spring semester are posted on the Learning Abroad Center website, and information sessions for the courses begin October 22.

We have heard from some parents that it's hardly fair for students to go abroad when the parents can't go. Please note that parents who want to take part in an international service learning trip are encouraged to join the parent/student Vision Team to Guatemala, scheduled for March 16-23, 2013. The priority deadline for applications is November 1.

When Times Are Tough

The college years are a time of transition, and it's not unusual for students to feel stress, anxiety, or depression at some point. The changing weather we're experiencing, results from mid-term exams, and social pressure can affect a student's sense of well-being. Academic and emotional challenges may become evident through decreased academic performance, expressed dissatisfaction with the University, irritability, mood swings, and changes in how your student relates to you as their parent or to other family members. If you notice symptoms in your student that concern you, please take a look at "How to Raise a Sensitive Issue or Approach a Student," written by Glenn Hirsch, Director of University Counseling & Consulting Services.

Upcoming Holidays

Every year we see students celebrating Halloween by drinking too much, making poor judgements, and ending up with injuries or police citations. The anonymity that a mask or costume provides convinces students they can get away with more than usual. Please have a conversation with your student about your expectations related to partying and drinking. Research has shown that parents' expectations can outweigh peer pressure in students' behaviors.

Thanksgiving break is scheduled for November 22-25. Classes are held on the Wednesday before the break, including Wednesday evening classes. Some instructors may choose to cancel Wednesday evening sessions, but that decision is up to the instructor. If students plan to miss classes, they should let their instructor know and determine whether it can be made up. Students are responsible for any material presented in class, whether they attend or not.

Fall Care Packages

Gopher Express is putting together several Care Packages with a fall theme, including two Halloween-themed options for students who miss sorting through the candy after Trick or Treating, and a Be Well package with all the things students need when they catch a cold.

Speaking of colds: An entirely different option is Soup for U, a service offered for all students by the student organization Hillel. There is no cost for Soup for U. To request free delivery of a bowl of chicken or vegetarian matzah ball soup, just email and they will deliver it to your son or daughter. In addition to soup, students receive a get well card, a booklet of jokes (because laughter is the best medicine), tea and honey to soothe a sore throat, vitamin water to replenish electrolytes, chapstick, and tips from Boynton Health Service on how to fight the common cold and flu. For more details, see Soup for U.

Parents' Role in Student Success

In the past few parent email messages, we have discussed several of our University of Minnesota Parent/Family Outcomes. We developed these outcomes to facilitate discussion among parents, students, and University staff about appropriate and successful family involvement during the college years. Previous emails talked about parents' role in understanding the student experience and knowing the resources available on campus; supporting the University's goals for student learning; and determining when to empower your student to take responsibility and when to step in and help.

We also want to emphasize that we view parents as an important part of our University community. We hope that you feel a sense of pride in and connection with the University and that you are comfortable attending and participating in campus events. Our students benefit from the encouragement they receive from all members of the University, including the families of their peers, as they learn, perform, lead, and serve through campus and community activities.

The Parent Program's mission is to provide family members with information about the University and the student experience so that you are able to support your student. We also hope you will use the information we provide to help other families as they prepare their students for college or as they work with students who are in college—at the U of M or elsewhere. Finally, we hope that if you have a good understanding of the University, campus services, the typical stages of student development, and campus issues, you will serve as advocates for higher education and Support the U at the state and federal level.

Common Book

The College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) invites parents to an author event with Wes Moore at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, October 30, in the Ted Mann Concert Hall. Moore's book, The Other Wes Moore, is one of two common books recommended by U of M colleges this fall. Mr. Moore will discuss his book and take questions from students and from audience members, and there will be a book signing after his talk. The event is sponsored by CEHD and its Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning (PsTL). All CEHD first-year students are reading the book as part of a year-long focus on the question, "Can one person make a difference?"

Campus Shuttle Buses

With colder weather approaching, students will be more likely to seek alternate transportation around campus. Students--and, by the way, their parents--can use the U of M shuttle buses to travel between the West Bank, East Bank, and St. Paul Campus at no charge. Campus Connectors connect the three campuses; Campus Circulators follow a route around each of the three individual campuses. With technology installed on the buses this year, riders can track the buses on their desktop, laptop, or mobile devices to find out where the buses are and predict arrival times. Maps show where buses are, how full they are, and estimates for arrival times.

LGBT Parents: Survey Request

A colleague from the University of Maryland is conducting a national study to explore the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents of college students and recent graduates. The information provided will help colleges and universities better understand the issues and the campus climate faced by LGBT parents of college students. If you’re the parent of a college student or recent graduate and if you self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, please complete this survey.

The survey will take about 20 minutes to complete.  Responses are completely anonymous. Survey participants are eligible for a drawing for five $25 Amazon gift certificates. If you do not qualify for this survey but you know someone who does, please forward this request to him or her.

The deadline for responding is November 15, 2012. Please direct questions to Brian Watkins, Director of Parent and Family Affairs, University of Maryland, at


A reminder: 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.

Parents Weekend is a student-led event, and your responses will be read and considered by our students as they 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.

If you haven't responded to the October Question of the Month, please do!