Blog

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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Shine Your Light! The Importance of Our Work

I started the Office of Parent and Family Programs at Western Michigan University in 2006 and built it from the ground up. Prior to 2006, we had a dues-based Parents Association that had about 400 members. The current database of family members connected to the department is over 17,000 and it is now known as the Office of Family Engagement. I was a one-person office up until this past year when I was given a graduate assistant who works 20 hours per week. I am sharing this insight with you from the perspective of “lessons learned” in the hope that you can find a nugget of advice from my experience.

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Getting Started in Partnering with your Development Office

Establishing a partnership with your campus development office can be key to providing resources to enhance your office and student success. Depending on your reporting structure and campus priorities, you may need to first determine where current partnerships exist. Check in with your supervisor to understand who in your division may already have existing relationships with development staff.

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My First Year...A Graduate Student Reflection in PFP

In August of 2018, I moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan from North Carolina to pursue my Master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership. As a recent graduate and convenient store cashier, I had no idea what I was getting myself into but I was excited to take on the challenge. I was lucky enough to not only have the opportunity to be in graduate school, but also to have a job that would give me experience and help me pay for school…but could I actually do the work?

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Student Leaders and Family Connection: Benefiting the University Through Engagement, Retention, and Recruitment

CAS Standards and national family program surveys provide evidence that parent/family programs nationwide are increasing in both number and scope in higher education, most markedly since the beginning of the 21st century.  Since its inception ten years ago, the Gonzaga Parent/Family Office has established an excellent track record in programming, communication, and services for parents and families; because of this established reputation, four years ago it became clear that training student leaders to work with families would benefit the university, students and families.

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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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Messages from Home: Sponsored Letter Writing Campaign

Many people underestimate the impact of sending a written message rather than a text or email. As parent and family program professionals, we are well aware that a card or package from home can change the course of a student’s day, week, or even semester.

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Family Host Program for International Students

Here at The College of Wooster, our students are invited to participate in the Friends of International Students (FIS) Host Family Program. This is a non-residential host family program with the goal of connecting students with local families who will support their experience here in Wooster and to provide an opportunity for cultural exchange. It is run through the International Student Services branch within the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) here at the College, with the help of a number of volunteer coordinators who are active within the Wooster community.

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Building an Inclusive Family Weekend

For many parents and families, especially for those with first-year students or those who are first-time college parents, Family Weekend is an eagerly anticipated opportunity to reconnect and enjoy time together while exploring their student’s “home away from home.” For some students, however, Family Weekend can be an uncomfortable or even painful reminder of family who will not be visiting, whatever the reason. Especially on a small campus of about 2,000 students, it is quite obvious who has visitors and who does not.

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The Importance of Campus Partners

As I reflect on another year of Family Weekend at the University of Houston, I am reminded of all the people on campus I am lucky enough to call campus partners who make my job (and my life) easier. In a role that has Parent and Family Programs as fifty-percent of my responsibility, I came in knowing that in order to be successful and serve parents and families effectively I would need help. In fact, my sanity depended on it! 

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Optimal Parent Involvement

Like many of us, I spent the last few weeks of the summer leading our New Parent Orientation, responding to Facebook posts (what size sheets to they need again?), or speaking to parents on the phone.  While their inquiries vary, I really feel that they are all asking one basic question.  How am I supposed to do this?   How do I both stay involved and detach myself?  How do I support them when I don’t see them every day? What should I do when they encounter a struggle?  My experience is that while students seem nervous at the beginning of their time in college, the parents are even more nervous about the transition—their own transition to parent of a college student. 

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Parent Funds for Student Engagement: Dinner Dialogues

Established in 2006, the Dinner Dialogues program helps create a meaningful experience for students at the University of South Carolina. For some students, it can be difficult to create connections on campus. The Dinner Dialogues program was created to offer a unique way for students and university instructors to interact throughout the semester, in a more casual atmosphere than the classroom setting. It also allows students to get off campus with their peers and have genuine conversations with the people they see two to three times a week–about more than an assignment. 

Because of its terrific reputation, the program has grown from 20 Dinner Dialogues in 2006 to 117 in fall 2017. Supported by the Parents Annual Fund, professors can apply to host their undergraduate class in their home for a meal, receiving reimbursement up to $10 for each student. 

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Translations: Spanish & Chinese

To meet the needs of our largest international population and serve our domestic Spanish-speaking families, the University of Wisconsin-Madison launched a variety of translated services in Chinese and Spanish, including translated websites, a phone and email service in Spanish and translated newsletter content. 

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Revamping Your E-Newsletter

At the University of North Dakota (UND), our email newsletter is something that has been sent out monthly for many years. Parents have always appreciated the content and never complained about the format, yet the emails were simply coming through to parents as text in an email. There was no color, no photos, etc. Our Marketing and Creative Services team on campus had recently launched a weekly student email called “Student Life Weekly.” I envied how colorful it was and how much of an impact it was having on our students. Believe it or not, after conducting numerous focus groups and surveys, our students said that they prefer to receive information from UND via email. Hence, Student Life Weekly was launched.

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Hugs from Home

Do you remember the thrill of opening your mailbox and having snail mail addressed to you? Not a bill. Not a coupon for the new restaurant nearby. A letter from someone with your name on it. It brought such a sense of joy each time it happened to me growing up. Now today, I think our inboxes seem to have adopted the same thrill. When it’s not junk mail, spam, or another all campus email about the big game; a personal email from someone special seems to provoke the same glimmer of joy as that intentional letter once did. So here at University of Memphis, we offer parents and family members the chance to support their student and give a little nudge of encouragement through our Hugs from Home program so that their student's inbox can have that special subject line: You have a Hug from Home!

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Kitchen Away From Home: Cookbook

Last spring, my student employee and I were chatting about potential parent engagement ideas. I mentioned that I thought it would be fun to create a cookbook for parents, but brushed it off as something we could think about later. The idea, however, resonated with my student, and by the next day, she had sent me a list of recipe categories and a marketing plan for our cookbooks.

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Start a Webinar Series

The New Student Programs & Family Outreach's (NSPFO) Parent and Family Webinar Series was created this fall as a new strategy for connecting and engaging with our Oregon State parents and family members. Currently, we have completed two different sessions, recorded both, and then made them available through our website. As this was not only a new initiative for our department, but for myself, I have some tips below if you are considering creating something similar!



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Move-In Parent Volunteers

Each fall, our institutions move in thousands of eager freshman students to our campus residence halls. At Appalachian State University, over 2,000 first-year students move in on the Friday before classes start. Emotions run high, traffic moves slow and, somehow, rain always threatens the weather forecast! To give our new students and their families extra support during this rite-of-passage, parent volunteers help by unloading cars and moving students’ belongings into their residence halls.  

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Starting a New Tradition: Honoring Winter Graduates

For the last three years, on the third Sunday evening of Block Four, during the generally chilly month of December, Bemis Great Hall on the Colorado College campus has been aglow with soft light and sparkling smiles as a small cohort of seniors gather with their families, friends and cherished faculty to celebrate the end of their undergraduate studies and the beginning of their journey into the future. (For those of you unfamiliar with the idiosyncratic measurement of time known as the “block”—which is probably most of you!—you can read more here.) While the majority of the 2,000 or so undergraduate students at Colorado College conclude their time on campus by processing across the quad on a sunny May day during Commencement Weekend, there are a few students (generally between 10 and 20) each year who, for a variety of reasons, choose to complete their programs in December, mid-way through the academic year. To honor the diversity with which our liberal arts students design and pursue their academic experiences, and to celebrate those students who don’t take a traditional path to degree completion, Colorado College established the Winter Celebration. 

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