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Parents of First Year Students: Friends or Foes? Colleen Blaney, MA, MSc Student Adviser College of Engineering, Mathematical & Physical Sciences University.

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Presentation on theme: "Parents of First Year Students: Friends or Foes? Colleen Blaney, MA, MSc Student Adviser College of Engineering, Mathematical & Physical Sciences University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Parents of First Year Students: Friends or Foes? Colleen Blaney, MA, MSc Student Adviser College of Engineering, Mathematical & Physical Sciences University College Dublin Ireland

2 Why the interest in parents? Experience of dealing with parents of 1 st years Initiatives in managing parents expectations University College Dublin (UCD) Literature about helicopter parents in US – is this what is happening in Ireland? In the Irish media over the past year Increasingly parents are contacting me! EFYE Conference 2008

3 Helicopter parents What do we mean by helicopter parents? On the increase in Ireland Why? Smaller families – children more precious Middle class syndrome Customer service mentality Parents are used to having relationship with their childs school and habits are hard to break EFYE Conference 2008

4 How important are parents? Ishler and Upcraft (2005) highlight several studies that show the link between first- year student retention and parental support. Parental support, both pre-entry and upon entry to university, is a protective factor against student early withdrawal. Tintos (1993) theory of external communities highlights the importance of the off-campus contacts students have. EFYE Conference 2008

5 But theyre adults now….. Do parents know this? Parents highly involved up to 1 st year in university, why would they stop now? Do students suddenly change as soon as they step onto campus? Parents unsure who to communicate these worries with. EFYE Conference 2008

6 Do you know how important parents are to your 1 st year students? EFYE Conference 2008

7 Sources of Data Student demographics Surveys on student expectations and pre- entry decision making First Year Experience survey/interview data Exit interviews – who did students discuss withdrawing with? Staff experience with parents Survey of parents of new students EFYE Conference 2008

8 1 st Year students at UCD Parents and friends most influential for pre-entry decisions Parents and friends are consulted with 1 st when students think of withdrawing If at home, students quicker to withdraw in 1 st year. 60% of 1 st years live at home Students at home more likely to work part-time In Ireland, parents strongly encouraged to be involved at school level. Are parents giving out the messages about the university that you would? Can parents be ambassadors for higher education? EFYE Conference 2008

9 Two ideas for bringing parents on board to support 1 st years Parents Orientation Crèche Recognising that parents, particularly those from outside Dublin, are really involved in the move to university Refreshment stop Messages about university Parent survey – how was Orientation from your perspective? Welcome Night for Parents and Families of First Year Students Parents and families of new students invited to campus Meet the staff teaching your student Talk by Dean, Chaplain and Student Adviser Chance to ask questions Another point to give our critical messages EFYE Conference 2008

10 Sample slide from Orientation Crèche: How can you best support your student through the transition to higher education? Starting university is exciting, scary, challenging and rewarding, all at the same time! Ask your student about their studies, the social scene and how they are settling in. If your son or daughter is having difficulties, encourage them to seek support – Student Advisers are a great place to start. Keep in mind that UCD can not confirm attendance, exam grades or other information to parents. Our goal is for students to succeed academically and socially and to grow during their time as students in UCD. EFYE Conference 2008

11 Sample Slide from Parents Night Support services available, but students must seek support and guidance themselves Encourage students to look after themselves, but also each other Technological age – support via internet and text message October is key month for many new students – encourage your student to discuss issues with university staff EFYE Conference 2008

12 Crafting critical messages for parents If you could, what would you really say to parents of 1 st year students? Encourage parents to refer students to university staff rather than call themselves Explain how university functions – particularly how technology is used for communications When, if ever, would university contact home? Does everyone in university know these messages? What happens during 1 st year? Learning opportunity for parents. EFYE Conference 2008

13 Whats good for 1 st years….. Messages give to parents (directly or indirectly) need to be clear. Clear guidelines in university about parental communication? Does this work with university philosophy? decide for yourself; are parents to be dealt with or worked with. You can't straddle that fence. (Savage, 2007) EFYE Conference 2008

14 Resources on this topic STAR literature ( Websites of note: U. of St. Andrews Durham University US universities generally Davies, Cook & Ruston (2007) National Resource Center for 1 st Year Experience (U of SC) updated booklet EFYE Conference 2008

15 Make parents friends Parents are an important influence in the lives of many students Leverage parent support – make them your student adviser at home Manage parent expectation and educate them on modern student life EFYE Conference 2008

16 Discussion Colleen Blaney Tel: +353 1 716 1875 EFYE Conference 2008

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