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Parent Email–October 31, 2012

  • Off-campus Living for Next Fall
  • Paper Trails
  • Minnesota Supreme Court Tour
  • Halloween Message
  • Deadline for Orientation Leader Applications
  • Finances
  • Parents' Collective Wisdom
  • Miscellaneous

We're enjoying clear skies in the Twin Cities today, but we are thinking about families that have been coping with Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath. We know that many of our students are concerned about family and friends who live in that large section of the country. When students know that the people they love are going through a difficult time, it affects them deeply, even though they're here on campus. If you notice that your student is struggling with additional stress because of family worries, please encourage her or him to contact University Counseling & Consulting Services.

Off-campus Living for Next Fall

With the growing numbers of apartment complexes near campus, management companies are increasingly marketing to first-semester students to encourage them to sign leases early for the 2013-2014 academic year. Students, meanwhile, feel pressured to make decisions that will enable them to live with or in proximity to all their friends.

A few points for students—and parents—to consider:

  • There are multiple living options both on and off campus. Decisions should be made carefully and with considerable thought. Many first-year students elect to move from a shared residence hall room to a single room for their second year as a next step. Others choose an apartment-style living space within the University's Housing & Residence Life on-campus system. Nearby off-campus options range from upscale apartments with significant amenities to more traditional apartment buildings or houses in the neighborhoods and inexpensive options that are decidedly not upscale. Students should consider overall cost, safety, and proximity or transportation to campus before committing to a lease.
  • Friendships and plans tend to shift throughout the first year. Some students will decide not to return for a second year; some whose families live close to campus will opt to move home to save money; some will want to study abroad for at least part of the upcoming year; some best friends now will not be close at all by the end of spring semester.
  • All students should take their lease to University Student Legal Services before signing. USLS will review the lease at no charge as one of the benefits of the Student Fees payment. There are often legal issues that students have not noticed or taken into consideration that USLS can identify, and the attorneys and paralegals at USLS can provide insight regarding students' past experiences with individual properties and landlords.
  • There are currently many units in the areas around campus and plenty of time before a decision is needed. Later in the year, students will be more likely to be able to negotiate with landlords. Leases are, indeed, negotiable, especially when landlords and management companies know they have more spaces than applicants. Students may be able to reduce rent somewhat, alter the length of the contract, or request that the landlord reduce or deduct some of the extra expenses, such as utilities or parking. USLS can provide suggestions on negotiating.

Room reapplications will begin in January for those who choose to live on-campus next year; the Housing office will contact all current residents with reapplication details. Students considering moving off campus are encouraged to attend the Renters Forum programs that will be presented over the next few months. The programs are sponsored by USLS, the Minnesota Student Association, Housing & Residential Life, and the Office of Student and Community Relations, and students will receive information about the date, time, and place for the programs. A video of one of the programs is posted online.

Paper Trails

A recent conversation with one of USLS's staff members revealed that a good many students are registering complaints or requests for repairs with their landlords by sending text messages. It is reasonable to believe that with students' great comfort with texting, they also are likely to be seeking advice, making appointments, and clarifying information with other professionals, including faculty and advisers, via text messaging. We notice that parents are more likely each year to use texting to communicate, so you may be doing the same thing with important communications.

Phone calls and texts do not provide the necessary evidence that is required when landlords fail to make improvements or when verification of conversations are needed. Communication by email (saving the sent and received emails) or hard copy information with a signature will provide the evidence that may be needed at some point in the future. If students are going to rely on texting, they will need to retain the messages in a format that allows them to find and display the information later.

Minnesota Supreme Court Tour

Students who have an interest in the field of law are invited to join a tour of the Minnesota Supreme Court at 3 p.m., Monday, November 12, in St. Paul. They should meet in the reception area of the Minnesota Judicial Center, 25 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul. The tour is sponsored by University Student Legal Services, and questions should be directed to 612-624-1001.

Halloween Message

Happy Halloween! If you go to the University of Minnesota website today, you will notice that Goldy Gopher is asking for help choosing a Halloween costume. Those of you who are on Facebook can like or share your favorite of Goldy's many costumes. Voting will continue until 11 p.m. tonight, in case Goldy decides to try different options as the evening progresses.  And while you're at it, if you have not yet checked out our University of Minnesota Parent Program Facebook page, please do.

To see whether students are wearing costumes today, go to the Northrop Mall webcam.

Deadline for Orientation Leader Applications

Students have received notice that applications to be an Orientation Leader for next summer are due November 2.

Finances

The second payment for fall semester is due today. Students will receive an emailed third billing on November 3 if they still have an outstanding balance.

This is a time of year when many students begin to realize they've overspent their budgets during the first weeks of the semester. The One Stop office has a number of money management tips for students.

Parents' Collective Wisdom

In our last email, we asked for your recipes for simple, favorite, or affordable dishes that students can make when they set out on their own. We've been grateful for your submissions, and we welcome continued contributions.

We would also like your advice and suggestions related to other aspects of independent living. This week, as the weather seems to be changing, we invite contributions related to car maintenance and other types of transportation. What should students know, think about, be prepared for? What should they consider when selecting a service station or repair shop? You may have taught your student everything he or she should know, but other students might benefit greatly from your advice.

Please send your thoughts to parent@umn.edu. We are collecting the information now and will work with a student organization to make it available to students.

Planning for Spring Semester

Registration for spring semester courses begins November 13. Students are assigned a registration time based on their class standing (semester/year in college). Students—especially first-year students—should make an appointment to talk with an academic adviser before registering for spring semester. An online tool, the Graduation Planner, is useful for planning an academic path to graduation.

There are some one-credit, online courses that can help students master campus survival skills:

  • Alcohol and College Life class discusses the rewards and pressures of the college experience, particularly around friendships, parties and drinking.
  • Sleep, Eat, and Exercise provides students with the knowledge and skills they need to live a balanced life while in college.
  • Success Over Stress (SOS) gives students a better understanding of stress and its effects on health and wellness. Lessons provide students with tools to let them choose how to react to stressors.

Miscellaneous

The priority deadline to register for the Guatemala service learning trip, designed for parents and students to participate together, is today. Honestly, we will not be checking registrations until Friday, though, so you have a couple of days to meet the priority deadline. While your thoughts about family time are probably focused on Thanksgiving and Winter Break right now, think about the long winter coming up and the warm weather in Guatemala during Spring Break, March 16-23. Please contact Chelsea Petree at petre025@umn.edu with any questions.

Please respond to our Question of the Month. We do appreciate your feedback.