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Parent Email–December 19, 2013

University Parent

Office for Student Affairs

December 19, 2013

Inside This Issue

  • A Time for Conversations
  • Final Grades
  • Affording Study Abroad
  • Student Health Survey
  • Student Health Insurance
  • Planned IT Outage
  • Undergraduate Research
  • Miscellaneous

Today is the last day of finals, and students are ready for a break. As they return home, they are likely to be exhausted. Studying for exams is hard work, and there is a good deal of stress involved. Don’t be alarmed if your student sleeps for hours the first few days they’re home. They are trying to figure out how to fit back into the family, and brief forays into family spaces are a way to ease slowly back in. You may notice that they wander out to the kitchen, stand in front of the open refrigerator for a while (for students in a residence hall, it is a treat to have a whole fridge full of food at their disposal), maybe chat briefly, then go back to their bedroom. They will eventually settle onto their favorite corner of the sofa and join in with the family routine.

A Time for Conversations

When students arrive home at the end of the semester, you may notice significant differences in your son’s or daughter’s appearance and behaviors. We hope the changes are all about growing up and becoming more independent, but sometimes the time apart highlights worrisome behaviors. While most change among college students is normal, it is important to take notice if a student seems dramatically different; is highly stressed, anxious, or persistently unhappy; has lost a significant amount of weight or seems malnourished; or indicates signs of heavy drinking or drug use. It can be difficult for both you and your student to discuss these issues. University Counseling & Consulting Services offers suggestions for how to begin a difficult conversation.

As you read through this email, please consider having conversations with your student about some of the topics below. The first week home is probably not the best time to bring up college business, but maybe after January 1. 

  • Student Job and Internship Fair: All students should be considering future career plans throughout their college years--even first-year students. Students who will be looking for career and internship opportunities in the next few months are encouraged to start preparing now for the biggest student career fair in Minnesota, to be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, February 21, at the Minneapolis Convention Center. You should be receiving your Winter issue of the Parent Newsletter in the mail soon. It includes tips related to career planning and preparation.
  • Spring Semester U-Pass: Ask your student if a reduced-rate bus pass makes sense for next semester. U of M students can purchase a U-Pass for $97 to receive unlimited rides on city buses and light rail throughout Spring semester. Students can order the U-Pass online.
  • Selecting a Major: If your student has not yet determined a major, or maybe decided that the major originally selected is no longer an option, encourage him or her to  sign up for Extreme Makeover: Major Edition, a day-long, interactive workshop designed to help students  explore majors. The program will be on Wednesday, January 15, 2014. For more information, students can contact the Center for Academic Planning & Exploration (CAPE).
  • Campus safety: We are all more alert this year than ever to safety concerns on and around campus. We want students to be aware of safety measures they can take and resources they can use. Students may not respond well to lectures about safety, but consider asking your student to think about some different scenarios and how they would handle them. Examples:
    • Do you know who you could contact if you had to walk across campus alone at night? (Students should know about and use 624-WALK  and Gopher Chauffeur).
    • When you’re going out, is there someone who can be alert to where you’re going and when you expect to be back? (A roommate or friend; if your student is leaving for the weekend, tell the residence hall Community Adviser [CA])
    • What would you do if you felt like someone was following you? (Go immediately to a location nearby with more people or more traffic).
    •  How would you intervene if a friend was doing something dangerous? (Talk to the friend about concerns, notify a CA, ask other friends to help; call 911 if a friend is in danger).

An important message for students to hear is that they can call 911. The 911 operator will work with callers to determine if assistance is needed. It’s part of their job.

And be sure to mention all the changes you see in your student that are impressive and delightful!

Final Grades

The University does not mail student grades. Students can access their grades through the One Stop Grades and Transcripts website. They can also print them off and show them to you. Final grades for fall semester should be submitted by the instructor no later than three business days following the end of final examinations. If students have questions about a missing grade, they should contact their instructor.

For concerns about the accuracy or fairness of a grade, students are encouraged to work with the Student Conflict Resolution Center. SCRC can assist students with issues related to grading disputes, scholastic misconduct, roommate conflicts, and academic harassment.

Students who didn’t do as well as they expected or hoped could be highly discouraged. The new semester offers a fresh start. Please encourage your student to consider what didn’t go as planned, and what she or he might change for the upcoming semester. Whether it’s focusing less on social opportunities and more on academics, changing study patterns, or seeking assistance, a New Year’s resolution to improve academics is a resolution that students can achieve.

Affording Study Abroad

The Learning Abroad Center is presenting a workshop to help students understand the finances of study abroad and help them choose an affordable program. Participants will also learn about scholarships and financial aid. The program will be offered twice: 3-4 p.m. Tuesday, January 28, in 150 Blegen Hall, or noon to 1 p.m., Wednesday, February 19, 415 Blegen Hall. Note: Some study abroad scholarship deadlines are in early February. Students interested in any scholarships with a deadline prior to February 19 should attend the first session.

Student Health Survey

This week Boynton Health Service released results from its 2013 Student Health Survey. The good news: Tobacco use is down, with only 1.9% of students reporting that they smoke regularly. High-risk drinking (defined as consumption of five or more alcoholic drinks at one sitting within the past two weeks) is also down, but still at 30% of students. More bicyclists are wearing helmets, although the number who always wear a helmet is just 24.8%.

The No. 1 public health issue on campus is mental health. About 30% of students say they’ve been diagnosed with a mental health condition in their lifetime. The percentage of those diagnosed in the last 12 months is at 14.3%. Students identified their most common stressors:  roommate conflict, the termination of a personal relationship, and the death of a loved one.

Student Health Insurance

An additional re-enrollment period for spring semester has been approved for all eligible students to participate in the Student Health Benefit Plan (SHBP), Academic Health Center Student Health Benefit Plan (AHC-SHBP), and the Voluntary Student Dental Plan (VSDP). Students can enroll now through February 3, 2014. For information, see the Office of Student Health Benefits website.

Planned IT Outage

During the first weekend in January, the University will perform annual data center maintenance, which requires a complete shutdown of the primary data center. This outage, scheduled for 6 a.m. Saturday, January 4, will affect many IT services and systems, including Parent/Guest Access, Grades, Student Financial Aid, Student Registration, Admissions, and other One Stop Services. Restoration of the system will begin at 6 a.m., Sunday, January 5, and it is expected that all affected services will be restored by noon Sunday. The list of affected services, as well as updates during the maintenance period, will be available on the University's IT Service Status page.

Undergraduate Research

The University of Minnesota, as a research institution, offers unique opportunities for undergraduates to participate in research projects under the guidance of a professor. When students work directly on research projects, they are able to explore an academic field more deeply, enhance their academic experience as well as their resume, and possibly apply their research to a capstone project or honors thesis. What’s more, students who are accepted into the program receive a stipend for their work.

The application process takes time and effort. Applications will be accepted during Spring semester for research projects that will be conducted during Summer and Fall terms 2014. Winter break is a good time for students to start developing a proposal in advance of the Spring deadline, February 24. For information, please refer your student to the UROP website.


We wish all our families a peaceful holiday season.

The University will be closed December 23-25, January 1, and January 20. Classes for spring semester begin January 21; residence halls will reopen at 8 a.m., January 18. If you’re wondering what’s happening on campus during winter break, the Northrop Mall webcam is always on.

Please take a moment to respond to our December Question of the Month, and take a look at the Winter Seasonal Update.