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.

Read More

The Supervising Series | Defining Culture and Establishing Boundaries as a Supervisor (in Training)

In our last two articles in the Supervising Series we explored how to identify, communicate, and act on your career goal of becoming a supervisor. Let’s fast forward, assume you’ve achieved the opportunity to serve as a supervisor, so now you get to just tell people what to do all day, right?! Well, that’s definitely one way to go about things, but as the old saying goes “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”.

Read More

Summer Professional Development - The Future of Student Affairs

During the academic year, I struggle to make time for “learning” in the sense of professional development. What I have started to do, to address this gap, is create a folder on my desktop of reports or research projects I want to read in the summer. Even with orientation commitments, I am better able to block off a little time in my schedule to advance my knowledge of the work we do but reading about the great work and research of others.

Read More

Parent & Family Council Guide

Whether you've been a member of AHEPPP for ten years or ten weeks, you know that one the most popular questions and troublesome pain points for our field is the creation or revamping of a Parent & Family Board or Council on campus. You also know that the AHEPPP community is always willing to share their experiences, templates, or plans.

Read More

Book Review: The Stressed Years of Their Lives

Our students are stressed more than ever before. Families preparing their students to attend college have a variety of books and other media to provide advice and practical information about their student's transition and how to help them prepare. As higher education has turned to a greater focus on mental health and wellness, families also want to understand how they can help prepare their students and help if something goes wrong. The Stressed Years of Their Lives by B. Janet Hibbs and Anthony Rostain provides knowledge and advice for families as they prepare for college and their student's college career.

Read More

Less is More

As I sit paused in between orientation sessions, I practice a moment of mindfulness. I soak in the warm Carolina sun, smile at the crowds of excited families, and relish the feeling of familiarity. New Student and Family orientation has arrived, we are in person and seemingly back to all things pre-pandemic. We made it. And I begin to reflect…

Read More

April 2022 BOD Report


In late-April, your AHEPPP Board of Directors met for our Spring Board Meeting in Los Angeles, CA. As promised in December, I am excited to share a summary of our meeting. In our two days together, we talked about more I can share in this space, but here are the highlights:

New resources for members. We have more things coming your way! I don’t want to spoil any launches, but keep your eyes out this summer for Discussion Zone calls and a couple new guides to support you in your work with families.

AHEPPP Awards. AHEPPP Awards are a way for our members to show off their work, share ideas, and show that we are the true experts in the field. Earlier this year, we began a review process for the awards to make sure they are equitable and accessible. In light of findings, we have decided to postpone the 2022 awards in order to celebrate all members’ successes this past year at our gathering in Orlando. In 2023, the awards will come back even better than before with some adjustments that will make the process fair and easier to navigate.

2022 National Conference. The Board of Directors is very proud of Kayla Albano and her Conference Committee for the work they are putting into planning our first in-person conference in three years! We were able to receive a thorough update from Kayla, including hearing the goals of the conference and schedule highlights. We’re all pretty excited about AHEPPP Takes Epcot following our time of learning and connecting! Along with our excitement, we also recognize that there are members of our community impacted by recent legislation in Florida who may prefer not to travel  to this location. Please know we respect everyone’s decisions, but hope you feel you have a safe place within the AHEPPP family. AHEPPP leadership remains committed to our values.

EBI Council. The EBI Council is working hard on new initiatives to better support our members, diversify our membership and leadership, and build strategic partnerships within and outside of AHEPPP. We are excited to continue our commitment to equity, belonging, and inclusion in our organization and community.

Leadership opportunities. We are excited to share that there will be TWO openings for Board of Directors members! Being on the Board of Directors is a fun and rewarding way to make a difference in family engagement and support of your colleagues on a big scale. The call will go out in August so please consider applying to be our newest Board members. Or, if you know of someone who would be great in the role, encourage them to apply!

Thank you, as always, for your engagement, support, and energy surrounding all things family!

Chelsea Petree, Ph.D.
AHEPPP President

We are Family

In the 1980s, pop group Sister Sledge came out with a chart-topping single “We Are Family”. The song became an unofficial gay anthem, played and enthusiastically danced to in clubs catering to LGBTQIA+ populations (although, at the time, “gay” and sometimes “lesbian” were the only commonly used descriptors). The phrase, “, are they family?” became insider code to help identify community members. 

Read More

Writing a Successful Program Proposal for the 2022 Family Engagement in Higher Education Conference

Having presented upwards of a dozen educational programs at AHEPPP conferences over the last 5 years, served as the 2019 national conference programming co-chair and taken on the conference chair role this year, it’s safe to say I’ve been around the program proposal block a few times! I know developing a proposal can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Below are some tips and tricks for writing a proposal that earns a spot in the final conference program lineup.

Read More

New Student Orientation Approaches and Ideas

New Student Orientation is a year-round activity at most campuses, there is nothing like summer orientation. Typically, some of the largest orientation sessions you will see are a great opportunity to showcase all that your institution has to offer to students and their families. Not only will students and their families experience the various programs, resources, and services at your campus, but it is an exciting time to try new, innovative ways to entice families to engage with your office.

Read More

Supporting Student Parents

Since the creation of our Parent and Family office at Ohio State in 2009, we have focused primarily on the parents and families of our undergraduate students. Though our email communications and programs like Family Weekend and Sibs and Kids weekend are open to everyone, our mission has centered on our “traditionally” aged 18–22-year-old undergraduate students and their families. Obviously, this focus makes sense at Ohio State as we have 44,000+ undergraduate students on our Columbus campus, families who want to be engaged and limited office resources. We have engaged graduate and professional students in some capacity at events like Family Weekend and Sibs and Kids Day, but this has been secondary to our overall focus.

Read More

The Great Resignation and What it Means

The Great Resignation. What is it? How does it affect you? Recently, I started coming across TikToks from Millennials celebrating their resignations from their jobs. It was clear a weight had been lifted from them. They were tired, fed up, and ready to move on to something better.

Read More

The Supervising Series | Tangible Steps

It’s important to acknowledge that some of you will have to blaze a path all your own. You may have a supervisor who isn’t interested or able to support your journey (perhaps they are in a place in their own career where they are still “climbing the ladder” or perhaps they never gathered the tools to be an engaged and supportive leader for their direct reports). What is important to keep in mind is that you still have the capability to get where you want to go. Below we will explore methods to advocate for yourself and garner supervisory skills and experiences.

Read More

The Supervising Series | Career Goals vs. Career Trajectory

So, you are interested in becoming a supervisor and perhaps trying to figure out how to get to that next step in your journey. The Supervising Series is AHEPPP’s initiative to help you along the way! Through this collection of articles we will:

Read More

In loving memory of AHEPPP founding member, Sheila Hrdlicka

We are deeply sorry to say goodbye to AHEPPP Founder, Sheila Hrdlicka, who passed away January 4, 2022, in Durham, NC. At a time when colleges and universities were just beginning to encourage parental involvement, Sheila was a pioneer in the field. Her work with parents and families began when she became a member of the University of North Carolina (UNC) Parents’ Council. Her organizational and planning skills impressed UNC administrators so much that they invited her to become the university’s Parents Office Coordinator. That position led to her appointment as Assistant Director of New Student and Carolina Parent Programs, a role she filled for twelve years. 

Read More

Meet Kim Sterritt

Get to know Kim Sterritt! Kim is the Director of Parent & Family Programs at The University of Alabama and a long-time AHEPPP member and volunteer!

Read More

Get To Know AHEPPP’s Heart: Executive Director, Lindsay McKinney

We’re excited, for the first time in the blog’s history, to learn more about the individual behind AHEPPP’s day-to-day operations, from the “Big Email” communications to managing AHEPPP’s digital presence to welcoming and supporting each one of our members along their journey. Lindsay McKinney currently serves as AHEPPP’s Executive Director and does her job so well that sometimes we forget she is the only full-time staff member of this organization.

What led you to your role with AHEPPP?

Read More

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.

Read More

The Grounding Moment Challenge

As family program professionals, we often talk about engaging families in supporting their students’ mental health, and I can only imagine these types of interactions with families have increased during the pandemic. We might be working with campus partners and family members to figure out how to best support a student. We may even be tangentially navigating a family member’s mental health. We go to trainings and sessions on how to support students and their families. We read articles and consult with mental health professionals. But how often do we talk about our own mental health? How often are we taking time to make sure we are filling up our cup before we are helping others fill their own?

Read More

New Data on Family Engagement & Services

I’m pleased that the 2021 Family Engagement and Services at Colleges and Universities – our 10th biennial survey – is now available! Each time we post a new report for that survey, I can’t help but think back to the first effort in 2003 and consider how much has changed. In 2003, we parent/family practitioners were still in the early stages of finding each other. Our main source of connection was at the annual APPI conference (Administrators Promoting Parent Involvement), hosted by Susan Brown at Northwestern University. (The first conference was in 1998). Aside from that, we were trying to track each other down at NODA conferences, or we were stalking one another at NASPA and ACPA, hunting for any programs that related to parents and hoping to meet someone who did what we do.

What we knew in 2003:

Read More