Colorado School of Mines’ Department of Residence Life is a featured program.
What is the best way for parents – especially of first-year college students – to glean information from their students? Through Residence Life! Gathering information from the numerous phone calls and emails over the years – from inquisitive to emotional – led us to collaborate and inform “new parents” (and sometimes returning ones) of what their students are doing while away at college. From our first “summer newsletter” with information of the who, what, when, where, and yes – sometimes why – of what to do on check-in days and opening weekend; to anticipating “The Phone Call” in our first fall newsletter about expecting “THE CALL” from their overwhelmed student. We help parents to prepare themselves for this call, as coping skills begin to fail and they need the home team to be supportive and not react to this normal type of reaction to their student’s first semester away from home.
As the first semester goes quickly by, we start preparing our parents for “Transitions,” hoping to help parents understand the changes their student has gone through if they decide to come home during Winter Break. Students usually mature and gain a tremendous amount of independence during their first attempt at living away from home. Parents may experience “clashes” with their student; communication with our parents provide strategies for preparing for the Break – or even for the summer – creating positive memories for both sides. Compromise is discussed in our newsletters discussing expectations in advance help MANY families avoid arguments during their special time together. “Curfew” is a main source of communication we suggest discussing in advance with their student.
Sharing programs developed and provided to residents by our RAs are highlighted in our parent newsletters, as well. Photos of community service projects, for example, show parents that college life – especially living in the residence halls – is so much more than just the incredible academics here at Mines. Transitioning from home-to-independent living on campus is proven to increase a student’s success – not only with school, but in their confidence TO be able to be independent with the well-rounded lifestyle provided by Residence Life Staff – professional and student staff. Providing this through our communication newsletters shows actual and positive proof of the “life education” their student is getting during their first-year (or more).
As the academic year goes quickly by, we stress “Important Dates” to help their student remember to – e.g., sign up for fall housing in February, or that during spring break, Campus Dining continues to provide food services during all breaks; that residents can call Staff and/or Mines’ Public Safety 24/7, 365 days/year – bringing tremendous comfort to parents who live 30, 300, or 3,000+ miles away from their student. Our newsletters provide comfort our parents. We update our full-time staff photo frequently, providing parents with a “name with a face,” as well as contact information. “E-Days” (“Engineering Days) is a huge 3-day traditional event on campus, sharing with our parents photos of the events, but at the same time showing parents how strongly we encourage our students to make wise choices, as well as opportunities to get involved. Final exam schedules are provided to our parents, reminding them (as we do in ALL our parent newsletters) to plan early for the end of the year closing of the residence halls; that they should help their student make arrangements to move out AFTER their final exam but definitely BEFORE the residence halls officially close.
Our parent newsletters provide many resources available on campus for students and parents alike. Since students have extremely difficult classes, especially their first year, they may not be “looking around” for these resources. By us providing these to our parents, they can suggest these to their student should they hear something in their voices or emails about needing additional help but not sure what the next step is or how to find the help.
We have taken you through an entire academic year of communication via our Parent Connection Newsletters – just skimming the top layer of how important this type of communication with parents truly is. We send out approximately four newsletters each year, with interim newsletters going out, as needed. Being able to share this information with our parents help them to be the awesome support system their students need – from a phone call to perhaps a suggestion of booking a flight home for breaks or even for the end of the school year. Our grand finale? “Enjoying Your Summer with Your Student.” It can be done!
Submitted by Debi Pretz, Administrative and Parent Relations Coordinator