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University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

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1 University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Parents as Partners: The What, Why, and How of Designing an Effective Parent Orientation Program Presented by: Katie Granholm, M.S. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

2 Today’s Students Today’s students are
Respectful of social conventions & institutions; authority oriented Financially dependent on their parents Close to their parents Initiating communication with parents; parents are their “best advisers” Savvy in technology—and use it all the time

3 Today’s Parents Today’s parents are
Accustomed to guiding their students’ activities In close contact with their students Frequently college grads themselves Experienced in changing institutions Technologically savvy

4 College Costs Rising college costs
Families finance the cost of a college education. GenX parents are a consumer-drive generation- have options, used to shopping around for best “value”. Parents expect a high return on investment.

5 Parent and Student Relationship
70% of students say they communicate with their parents “very often”. (National Survey of Student Engagement, 2007) Most students perceive their parents’ involvement to be “just right”. (Higher Education Research Institute, 2008) Students who frequently communicate with their parents and follow their advice are more likely to participate in college activities and are more satisfied with the college experience. (National Survey of Student Engagement, 2007) “A healthy student-parent relationship is positively linked to overall college adjustment, including academic achievement and affective health, and these issues are all clearly demonstrated factors in student retention.” (Austin, 2003, p. 138)

6 Views on Parental Involvement
Effectiveness of “letting go” messages “Helicopter” Parents Stereotypes and realities Parents as partners

7 Parents’ Role in the Transition Process
Changes over time Parents’ role during the “senior summer” Parents’ role in first-year student success Parents’ role long-term

8 Who Works with Parents Admissions Orientation New Student Programs
Financial aid Housing….

9 What is the Role of Parent Orientation?
In the absence of meaningful connections on campus, students will turn to parents for advice and guidance. Familiarize parents with the resources available to new students and parents Educate parents on issues related to student development and the adjustment process Acknowledge the adjustment process that exists for parents/family members Build an affinity with the University: need for parents to feel connected to the institution

10 Best Practices in Parent Orientation
“Benchmark programs successfully achieve balance with the following goals: Educating parents on first year academic and social transition issues; Identifying that consistent, trustful, and respectful communication helps with separation issues and supports attitudes and motivations helping students meet expectations; Parental encouragement and interest with student experiences helps them optimize college opportunities; Providing information on programs and services helpful to learning.” (Hatch, p.44 )

11 What makes Parent Orientation Effective?
Clear Goals and Objectives Collaboration Institutional Commitment Based on assessment of parent, student, and institutional needs Assessment and feedback are shared

12 Questions to Consider When developing a parent orientation schedule, ask: What do parents need to know about the college experience? What support do your students need from their parents during their transition? What information do parents need to know in order for their students to be successful here? What are parents most concerned about at the time of orientation? How do we want parents to be involved in the college transition process?

13 Needs of Parents at the Time of Transition
Changing Relationships Academics Safety and Wellbeing Finances

14 Needs Assessment Institutional Feedback Survey of Parents
What are your partner departments telling you? Survey of Parents Predict their student’s adjustment to college life issues Main anxieties and concerns at this time Survey of Students What role does your parent play in your transition into college life? How can your parent better support you? Parent and Student surveys can be conducted before on-campus orientation, at admissions visits, by mail or , at or following on-campus orientation.

15 Additional Considerations
Key Players Program Design & Logistics Program Content Implementation Determining Success

16 Key Players Who has a stake in Parent Orientation?
What key departments provide services related to parent’s concerns, anxieties, questions, and also provide timely and relevant information? Who can be most helpful in getting your program off the ground? Your office, parents, college/academic constituents, departmental partners, sponsors, others?

17 Program Design & Logistics
What are your desired outcomes? What is the ideal format for your program? Time-frame: program concurrent to student orientation or separate Weekday vs Weekend program Budget Space

18 Program Content Health, Safety and Wellbeing
Residence Life or Commuting Information Campus Tour Academic and Social Support Resources Financial Resources Academic Expectations, Requirements & Policies Faculty/Staff Interaction Campus Involvement Freshmen Seminars or Extended Orientation Programs Student Development & Transitional Issues Interaction with other Parents

19 Implementation Staffing and oversight Presenters/Facilitators
Consistency & Reliability Dynamic presentation style Relevancy Program Format May depend on space & time considerations Passive vs. active programs Interaction with other parents, students, staff Promotion & Marketing

20 Program Evaluation & Assessment
How will you determine success? Accomplishment of learning objectives, active participation, attendance? Program Evaluation Go beyond demographic and satisfaction based questions. Eg: “After attending Parent Orientation, I have a better understanding of the student experience and resources available at the University.” Post-Orientation Follow-up Web polls, online survey, focus groups

21 Overview of U of M Parent Orientation Program
Program for the parents/guests of incoming freshmen and transfer students Concurrent with student program Saturday program option Costs: Freshmen: $25 (advance registration); $35 (on-site); $25 evening program Transfer: No charge Promotion and Communication

22 Learning Objectives By participating in Parent Orientation, parents will: Have a better understanding of the U of M student experience and the resources available to students and parents. Feel more connected to the University. Feel better able to support their student and empower him/her to take responsibility while enrolled at the University. Understand the academic expectations of their student.

23 Parent Orientation Schedule
8:30-10:30 Optional Morning Activities (with student) 10:30-10:50 University Welcome (with student) 10:50-11:05 Overview of Parent Orientation 11:10-11:45 One Stop Student Services (financial aid, billing, registrar) 11:50-12:20 Health & Safety 12:20-1:15 Lunch 1:30-2:20 College Meeting 2:35-2:55 Break 2:55-3:40 Housing/The Commuting Life 3:50-4:05 Pieces of the Puzzle: Campus Life Issues Preview 4:05-4:30 Coaching Your Student 4:50-5:15 U Card/ Reconnect with Student Changing Relationships Academics Safety and Wellbeing Finances

24 Lessons Learned After participating in Parent Orientation,
98% report feeling better prepared to assist their student in his/her transition into the University. 98% report having a better understanding of the student experience and the resources available. 96% report feeling more connected to the University. 78% of parents understand what is expected of their academically.

25 Lessons Learned Parents who did not attend Parent Orientation:
Are less satisfied with university’s communications, services, and programs Feel less connected to the university community Visit student in person more often 53.8% of non-PO parents visit one or more times a month 31% or PO parents visit one or more times a month

26 Filling in the Gaps Underserved Populations: Parents of commuters
Parents of transfer students Parents of first generation college students Parents of students with disabilities Non-Traditional parents: single, guardians, foster Parents of students of color Parents of high-need students

27 Orientation: Groundwork for the College Years
Consistency in message and policy Clarified expectations What comes next?

28 Tips for Success Consistency in tone and messaging
Address “first-fears first” Listen to your audience Draw on your resources

29 Next Steps Find out what parents need
Find out what the institution needs Pull together your campus partners to begin the discussion Decide what is realistic and take action!

30 Additional Resources University of Minnesota- Orientation & First-Year Programs: U of M Parent Program: Colorado State University Parent Orientation Schedule: University of Michigan- Ann Arbor Parent Orientation: NODA & FYE Parent Guide: “Empowering Parents of First-Year College Students: A Guide for Success” Administrations Promoting Parent Involvement- Annual March Conference in Boston- contact: NODA Parent & Family Network:

31 References Austin, D. (2003). The role of family influence on student success. In Ward-Roof, J. & Hatch, C., Designing successful transitions: A guide for orienting students to college. Columbia, SC: The National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition. Hatch, C. (2004) Parent and Family Orientation. In Fabich, M.J., Orientation Planning Manual: 2004 Edition. National Orientation Directors Association. Higher Education Research Institute. (2008). The American freshman: National norms for fall Retrieved February 9, 2009, from National Survey of Student Engagement. (2007). Experiences that matter: Enhancing student learning and success. Retrieved February 9, 2009, from

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