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Start with Something: Parents as Allies in Suicide Prevention

Just over a year ago, Inside Higher Ed published an article, “Parents Unaware of Students’ Mental Health Struggles,” detailing a study completed by YouGov on behalf of UnitedHealthcare. The study found that students were reporting mental health issues at much higher rates than their parents perceived. At the time, the Director of our Student Wellness Center brought this to our team in Parent and Family Programs with the question, “What can we do?” We had to do something. 

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Beyond “Mom & Dad:” Using a Gender Inclusive Approach to Family Engagement

We are fast approaching that time of year when we begin welcoming and onboarding new students and their families. In the world of family engagement, this can mean that we are deep in planning out our communication strategies or are planning events like family orientation and family weekend. As we continue planning and implementing our initiatives, it’s important to take a pause to ensure that our approach is inclusive and welcoming to all members of our community. One way to do this is to utilize gender inclusive strategies in how we communicate to families and how we implement events. 

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Let's Talk about New Student Orientation

Preparing our families for New Student Orientation is a full-time endeavor. From preparing programming to working on communications – parents are at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Besides, the parents are the ones who decide the date to bring the student to campus. They are the ones who ask the hard questions – what’s advising like? What will my student need to be successful? How will my student be able to juggle this class with his/her obligation to the band? Etc. 

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Expanding Your Team through a Partnership that Benefits Families & Campus Partners

The Background

Hello!  This is Whitney from the University of Cincinnati where we have experienced unprecedented growth over the last twenty years fueled by athletic success (including a move to the Big XII Conference) and nationally ranked programs, such as our #1 co-op program. In the last ten years, we became a Carnegie Classified residential campus with demand for housing dramatically outnumbering our number of beds. A larger student body means they need more resources, more housing, more classes, more everything. And, it means more families, too! It was time for Parent & Family Programs (PFP) to get creative in meeting their needs.

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Using Parent Volunteers

When we think of school volunteers, many of us immediately envision PTA-style bake sales and booster clubs. While the enthusiasm is the same, the role of a college parent volunteer is, by its nature, a different experience. At Emerson College, we have a Family Ambassador program of approximately 16 members. The program has worked well and maintains appropriate boundaries for the needs of our campus of 4,400 undergraduates.

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Students are the Experts

Over the last few years, trends at the University of Kentucky suggest that families have become more willing and eager to believe information provided by student leaders than by professional staff. So, if you are looking for ways to incorporate your student leaders’ expertise into more of your orientation experience, here are a few ideas from the University of Kentucky Big Blue Nation Orientation.

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A Crash Course in Podcasting

Since fall 2017, the UCLA Parent & Family Association (PFA) has produced Bruin Family Insights (BFI), a program exploring topics important to college parents and families. BFI’s original iteration was a successful monthly, hour-long YouTube Live program. During the 2019-20 academic year, however, there was a significant decrease in program engagement and the series became more difficult to produce. With university podcasts gaining momentum and the 2020 PFA Annual Survey showing that about 70% of respondents had at least some interest in podcasts, our team sensed an opportunity to engage families through a new medium; thus, BFI 2.0 – the podcast! – was born.

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Fall 2021 Presidential Update

Dear Valued AHEPPP Member,

For the first time in two years, your AHEPPP Board of Directors met in person for a two-day retreat in Raleigh, NC last week. After the hugs and excited greetings, we dove into work and discussed in depth the growth of our association, needs of our members, and our plan for 2022 and beyond.

As many of you have shared, 2021 was, in many ways, even more difficult than 2020. Along with navigating the continued impact of COVID on your campuses, there have been more incidences targeting our Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) community in both professional and personal spaces. Some of our members are hurting, and we hear you. 

AHEPPP recognizes the critical need for equity, belonging, and inclusion in our association, work, and lives, and this continues to be a core value of the organization. The language we use -“equity and belonging” as opposed to “diversity” - is intentional and based on feedback from our members and the newly-formed EBI Council (read more in this Insights blog post). The Board of Directors acknowledges that we have a lot of work to do in this area and, though we may make mistakes along the way, we will never stop striving to be a safe, supportive and inclusive space for all of our members. We welcome the hard work that is ahead of us, and invite everyone to be part of the continued conversation. 

A common theme of our discussions last week was the desire for consistent transparency with our membership. In order to do this, we plan to provide the following to our members moving forward: 1) summaries of the Board’s in-person retreats twice a year; 2) targeted Insights Blog posts that explain the work we do; 3) opportunities to connect in a variety of ways with our membership to make sure we are hearing all voices. We also want to encourage our members to familiarize themselves with the association Bylaws, which outline AHEPPP policies and processes, available on the AHEPPP website.

On the heels of two of the most difficult years of our lives, AHEPPP strives to be a space where we can all provide one another grace and support the collective understanding of our work and appreciation for us as professionals and individuals. We are grateful to be in the position to make change alongside you—our members and our friends. 

Please find our December 2021 meeting notes here, including agenda highlights, 2021 successes, and the 2022 work plan.

Thank you, valued AHEPPP member, for your engagement in and support of our association. I’m looking forward to seeing you in the new year!

Chelsea Petree, Ph.D.
AHEPPP President

The Do’s and Don’ts of Engaging Families with Facebook

Remember this statement – Facebook is your friend. Use it. Share it. Be proactive with it. Most importantly, engage with families on it. A few years ago, the Mountaineer Parents Club at West Virginia University decided to utilize Facebook groups to communicate with families. Our official Facebook page was often inundated with personal messages from prospective and current families asking us similar, if not the same questions.

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AHEPPP Launches Communication Calendar and Planning Guide

As parent relations professionals being a strong and timely communicator is essential. Communications are one of, if not the, best tools for supporting the individuals standing behind our students championing their success. And as the organization standing behind you championing your success, we are here to provide you with expert information and key strategies to help maximize your work. That is why we have designed a series of member resources that will enhance and positively impact these efforts; and we are excited to begin with the launch of the AHEPPP Communications Calendar and Planning Guide (member login required).

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Navigating New Student Orientation During a Pandemic

It’s safe to say that in February 2020, we were all living the dream. Everything was open, on-campus activity was a buzz. And, for the most part, life was as normal as it can get. 

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3 Apps I Can't Live or Work Without

I don't know about you, but I love finding new (and free) technology that can help me be more productive, work better with my team, and help me in the long and short term. In our current global pandemic, technology has become more necessary than ever before as we navigate a new world of virtual meetings and working remotely. While I began using all three products before the pandemic began, each has been an invaluable tool as our digital needs increase.

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Virtual Parent Engagement: Insight Discussion Series

As colleges and universities across the world become increasingly globalized communities, parent and family programs professionals must be creative with the ways in which we engage parents and families and strengthen their connection to our institutions. Often, it is simply not feasible for families to get to campus or, in return, to bring campus staff and faculty to families across the world. In determining how to fill this gap at UCLA, our Parent & Family Programs team recognized that the digital resources at our fingertips presented us with a great opportunity: to create a virtual discussion space where UCLA parents and families can feel personally connected to the individuals and issues their students encounter the most. 

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Active Minds: A Mental Health Resource for Students, Parents, Professionals, etc.

On our recent AHEPPP call, I was reminded of the importance of resources. Hopefully we have all been connecting with the resources on our campuses and those available remotely as well. One of the resources I was connected to early on by our Counseling and Psychological Services department in this crisis is the Active Minds website. There are not only articles that you can share, but there are also webinars that have been offered this week, including one today for "Young Adults, Parents, Remote Workers, Neighbors/Community Members" that might be of interest. You must sign up for the webinars, but they are free and you can sign up here.

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A Picture is Worth 1000 Words: Using Pictures to Get Your Message Out

If I had a dollar for every time a parent contacted our office saying, “This is the first time I’m hearing about this” or “Where was that information” or “I don’t think I ever received that email,” let’s just say I would be on the fast-track to retirement. In today’s busy world, campuses are continually challenged to find ways to get important information out to our student and parent/family populations in a timely, relevant and engaging fashion. As emails pile up and attention spans wane, enter the dynamic content options of social media. 

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Parent & Family Coffee Socials

University student populations continue to grow and become more diverse. As such, so do the parent/family populations they "bring with them" to our campuses. Many span the globe, with some never being able to step foot on campus more than once or twice over the entirety of their student’s educational career. UCLA Parent & Family Programs (PFP) is no stranger to this challenge and, in response to a request from families to “build community among other Bruin parents,” produced Parent & Family Coffee Socials, which occur in a number of locations around the world on a single designated date. In 2009, the program began with only a handful of locations in Southern California; however  as word has spread and enthusiastic parents have stepped up to host a social in their area, the Parent & Family Coffee Socials program has grown exponentially each year. In 2017, UCLA Parents’ Council members and volunteers hosted a record-breaking 56 locations with 21 out-of-state and 9 international locations. 

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Breathe Nolan

Five years ago, West Virginia University student Nolan Burch died due to alcohol-related hazing activities with a campus fraternity. His death shocked our campus and jump started conversations around Greek Life at WVU.

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Book Review: The iConnected Parent Staying Close to Your Kids in College (and Beyond) While Letting Them Grow Up

For parents who don’t know how to stay involved with their college student, “The iConnected Parent” guides parents in building this connection by creating close communication and strong relationships. The authors—Abigail Sullivan Moore, a New York Times journalist, and Dr. Barbara K. Hofer, a researcher and psychology professor—provide information from a real data and professional research conducted at Middlebury College and University of Michigan. This book is a mixture of information and advice from professionals and parent experiences about how to stay connected while giving their children own space to grow up.  

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Navigate: A Webinar series for college parents

Program Description

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Working with Parents During a Mental Health Crisis

Five years ago, the University of Houston joined hundreds of colleges and universities across the country who began to hire full-time professionals with mental health backgrounds in their Deans of Students offices to support students struggling with their mental health.

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