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Parent Email–November 16, 2012

  • Adopt-a-Family for the Holidays
  • Zimride for Thanksgiving
  • Freshman Seminars Abroad
  • Billing Update
  • CLA Student Position
  • Off-Campus Living Notes: Winter Edition
  • Parking Lottery for Spring Semester
  • Miscellaneous

Parents look forward to having their college student home for the holidays, but the reality of reunions frequently fails to match expectations. It is not easy for everyone to slip back into traditional family patterns when students have been gone for a few months. We have posted some holiday suggestions for parents, as well as some for students, to make the transition less stressful for the whole family.

Adopt a Family for the Holidays

In an office down the hall from the University Parent Program is the Student Parent Help Center (SPHC), the University's office that serves students who are parents. The students who take part in SPHC's services and activities are dedicated, hard-working students who have children of their own. For the sixth year, we are asking our University Parents to consider supporting a student-family or making a financial contribution to help these U of M student-parents and their children have a happy holiday.

All of the student-parents served by this program are low income, as verified by information provided in their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and most of them are in the lowest income bracket. These student-parents are making significant sacrifices to complete their education while providing a home for their children. They are attending classes, fulfilling their coursework, and working in order to provide a better future for their sons and daughters. In December, when finals and planning for the holidays create even more stress, the support of this project means they don't have to worry how they will provide gifts for their children.

In the past, many of our University families have selected a student-parent to sponsor for the holidays, and we also have had parents coordinate with co-workers to support a student-parent's family. In addition, groups of roommates and friends, a sorority or fraternity, a student organization, or University staff have worked together to adopt a family. Families that cannot sponsor a family have made cash donations, which are used to purchase grocery store gift cards, allowing student-parents to purchase the ingredients for a holiday meal.

Over the past five years, the assistance provided by our University Parents community has made for happy holidays for hundreds of families and nearly 1,000 children. Please visit the Adopt-a-Family website for information on how to support a family this year. And as you read through the "wish lists" these student-parents have written up, please keep in mind that they were asked for a range of gift suggestions. They do not expect to receive everything they've listed.

Zimride for Thanksgiving

Students who need a ride home or want to earn some gas money by driving others when they head home for the holidays can look into ride sharing through UMN Zimride. This password-protected website allows students to search for open seats or post a ride of their own. Plus, if they post a ride in November, they will be automatically entered to win an iPad, courtesy of Zimride.

Freshman Seminars Abroad

First-year students who are signing up for spring semester classes are encouraged to consider registering for one of the Freshman Seminars Abroad courses. These courses are taught on-campus during spring semester 2013 with a study abroad component over spring break. The seminars are a great way for students to get to know a professor, meet other students, and gain an introduction to studying abroad.

Students can enroll in one of six seminars:

Scholarships and financial aid are available, and students can apply through the Learning Abroad Center. All seminars are taught in English, and students from every college and major are invited to participate. Students taking a Freshman Seminar in the fall are also eligible to enroll in one for spring semester.

For more information, visit or contact Sarah at

Billing Update

The third fall billing was sent on November 3 to students who still have an account due. The payment due date is November 28.

CLA Student Position

Our friends in the College of Liberal Arts asked us to mention that CLA First Year Experience is currently hiring Program Assistants (PAs) for spring semester 2013. Applications will be open online until December 9, but the priority application deadline is Sunday, November 25. PAs are an essential part of the program's mission to help first year students have a smooth transition into CLA. They are looking to fill about 8-15 positions. Interviews will take place before winter break, and training will start in January.

The University has many student employment opportunities. Students can visit the Student Employment website for information on applying for a campus job; new job listings are posted daily.

Off-Campus Living Notes: Winter Edition

Students living in the neighborhoods near campus can make life easier for themselves and their neighbors by ensuring that snow is shoveled from sidewalks as soon as possible after a snowfall. In some cases, students have accepted the responsibility of snow-shoveling through their lease agreements. In other cases, they may not be officially responsible, but if they are willing to help out, they can make the walk to and from campus safer by pitching in. We know that some landlords are not as quick to clear snow as they should be. A call or email to the landlord to request service, or simply taking matters—and a snow shovel—into their own hands, will be appreciated by all who walk to classes. When snow gets packed down, it's that much harder to clear and that much more treacherous for pedestrians.

Those who are going home for Thanksgiving—and in another six weeks going home for winter break—are reminded to be sure to safeguard their apartments before leaving. Close curtains, put lights on timers, move cars from the street, and be sure that valuables are put in a safe place. Students can notify a trusted neighbor when they'll be leaving and returning and ask that any suspicious activity be reported.

It's also time for students to take note of snow emergency procedures for Minneapolis and St. Paul. Towing fees are expensive, and students are greatly inconvenienced if their cars are towed. Just because the weather has been decent so far this fall, students should not assume there will be no storms while they're gone.

Parking Lottery for Spring Semester

Full-time student parking contracts are available each semester through an online lottery. Students may enter the lottery each semester, but entering does not guarantee a parking contract. Contracts are good for one semester only. Locations vary but always include spaces on each campus.

Students can sign up for the lottery for Spring Semester 2013 now through midnight on November 25.


Among the things we are thankful for this Thanksgiving:

  • University of Minnesota parents who take pride in, give support to, and love their U of M students!
  • The national award our University Parent program received last week for the Most Creative Institutional Initiative for our International Service Learning Opportunity. The award was presented by the Association of Higher Education Parent/Family Program Professionals.
  • The Northrop Mall webcam, courtesy of the College of Science and Engineering, that lets parents get a glimpse of campus life.
  • The parents who respond to our Question of the Month.
  • And of course, all the amazing students at the U of M.

Happy Thanksgiving.