Don’t Forget About Spring & Summer Enrollees & their Families

The spring semester brings about new beginnings for students and their families. In the previous semester, incoming students may feel more acclimated to their surroundings, have a better sense of support resources and services, and may have met lots of new diverse people both in class and through on-campus social events. It’s important that we ensure that all students and their families feel that same sense of belonging and acclimation in every enrollment period each year.

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Settling in, Sustaining, and Keeping that AHEPPP Feeling

It was wonderful meeting so many of you during our time in Orlando. I hope you all had safe and smooth travels home. 

Personally, returning from a conference, particularly an AHEPPP conference, comes with mixed emotions. On one hand, there is travel fatigue, a bit of exhaustion, and the overwhelming feeling of catch-up that has filled my inbox. On the other hand, I am elated with inspiration and excitement; empowered by “my people” and ready to improve and implement all the things. My proverbial cup runneth over from being with colleagues who understand the ins and outs of our work; to the ones who “get” what we do with no need for explanation.

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Board of Directors – An Insider View

As you all know, we recently went through a Board of Directors election. As a current Board member, it is an exciting time to welcome new members to the table and get them engaged in AHEPPP leadership.

When I first joined AHEPPP, the Board seemed a little intimidating. It took me a few years to realize that the Board of Directors were professionals just like me who wanted to make a difference in AHEPPP. I want to share a little about my own experience so that everyone understands what it means to be a member of the Board of Directors.

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No More Helicopter Parents

We’ve all heard about helicopter parents hovering over their students and ensuring everything goes right for them. If things go awry, they are there to pick up the phone, put a post on the Facebook group, or write a scathing email. I’ve also heard of the snowplow parents, they push all obstacles out of the way to make sure their student has a smooth experience. 

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Finally, Family Engagement that is More Efficient, Less Work, and Leads to Happier Parents

Parent and family professionals are doing such important work, and we are inspired by your positive impact. With so much going on today, we hear some common themes from parent & family engagement teams:
  • How can I ensure I’m reaching all parents as a small/one-person team?
  • How can I steer parents from misinformation and ensure they get the right information?
  • How can I show the positive impact of the good work I’m doing?

Fortunately, things are changing in parent and family engagement – and Nearpeer, a new platform focused on family engagement, is leading the charge. Dr. Curtis Wright, SVP of Student Affairs at Xavier University of Louisiana, recognizes the power of this innovation. “Nearpeer has created a line of communication that is not contentious. It has built community with our families, and we have been so impressed.”New practices in family engagement are refreshing because the classic approaches like email, Facebook, portals, and newsletters simply aren’t enough in 2022. These classic solutions are hampered by an overall decline in older tech. Gmail is now 18 years old, and email overall is declining as a preferred communication method. Similarly, Facebook peaked seven years ago in 2015, according to the most recent Survey of College & University Parent / Family Programs. Plus, a staggering 75% of survey respondents report that they are dealing with misinformation spread across unofficial “rogue” Facebook sites and other similar social media pages.

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Refreshing your Project Management Toolbox

This one's for the planners, the calendar lovers, and all of you task managers, and “check-it-off” fanatics. Let me say, I love a calendar. I mean I LOVE a good calendar and, although I don't discriminate, there really isn't much that beats the feeling of ripping off the page of an over-marked, over-highlighted, all-too busy desk calendar only to start over with a squeaky clean canvas of a new month ahead. However, to be fair, one thing that does run a close second in my book is a solid project management system and I recently attended a meeting that had one agenda item only, project management systems. We spent an entire hour sharing our personal preferences and strategies for tackling daily to-do lists along with some of our recommended systems for teams. I walked away from that early morning meeting with more options for labeling, categorizing, and hyper-organizing my to-do list than I even knew existed, not to mention this video on how to zero your inbox. It was pretty much the best meeting, ever!

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Just 35 Items to Create the Perfect College First Aid Kit

Sending our kids off to college is both thrilling and terrifying at the same time. We want them to experience “the BEST years of their life” (no pressure, right?) while doing all the fun things we did…or perhaps the things we missed out on. We never want to see them hurt physically or emotionally, but the truth is they WILL stumble- whether it’s a bad grade, a bike accident, food poisoning, mono, insomnia, or heartbreak. Ultimately, it’s not the stumbling we fear, but how and when they get back on track. One last gift you can offer is a fully loaded COLLEGE FIRST AID KIT that will help your student help themselves. Jill Grimes, MD, a family physician who has worked extensively on a college campus (and a mom of two college kids) offers her list of what students really need at their fingertips:

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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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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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