Tips for Developing a Parent Calendar or Handbook

Each year, the University of Wisconsin-Madison produces a calendar & handbook and provides it to incoming families at orientation, along with mailing a copy to all other families with a current undergraduate student in years 2-4. Additional family or support members may request a calendar by contacting our office. The piece meets our program goals by being inclusive, inviting and informative. It also allows us to share campus resources, points of pride and tips that help families transition into the role of a coach and a mentor. 


Tips for developing your own calendar/handbook:
  • Involve your campus partners but still maintain ownership of the piece. It’s critical that partners share their expertise, but you know your audience best. Content should be written in a way that is that inviting, appropriate, meets the needs of parents and families, and uses your offices voice.
  • When writing content try to make section headers clear and avoid terms that may be unfamiliar to your audience. For example, a good section header might be, “Student Organizations,” rather than “The Center for Leadership and Involvement.” You can and should name the office within your content, but the section headers should be clear and avoid jargon.
  • To showcase your campus community consider including a “Did You Know?” section with an accompanying small photo for each month. These did you knows could be rankings, a nod to notable faculty, campus history, fun facts, anything!
  • When choosing large monthly photos showcase the diversity and richness of your community and choose photos that are aesthetically pleasing. Consider – what would I want to look at for an entire month?
  • Use your calendar/handbook to provide insights into the college experience – perhaps that’s through a monthly “what’s happening with your student” section, a first-year student section, a page on career services, or a page on campus lingo.
  • Keep your calendar/handbook visually appealing – just like the front of the calendar. It should include photos, content in boxes, and white space. More folks will read the handbook if it doesn’t feel overwhelming or crammed full of text. 
  • As colleagues in various campus offices present to families at orientation, encourage them to reference the page numbers in your calendar/handbook as they go. It can act as a supplement or outline for their presentation. This is not only helpful to your campus colleagues, but it also reminds families of the great content in the piece.
  • Consider your calendar/handbook as a resource for families, as well as a resource for campus. Perhaps this means mailing calendars to your partners and campus leadership. Maybe this means sending calendars with a letter to elected representatives throughout your state. Or this my also mean partnering with your Division of Continuing Studies to provide calendars to returning adult students. If your campus values your piece, they may also invest in it.


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