KC Spotlight: Parent & Family Relations Knowledge Community

Gabrielle Garrison, Parent & Family Relations Knowledge Community

June 24, 2019

New student orientation is a transition program for students and their families. Throughout the summer, I advise students at summer orientation. During the rest of the year, I work with admissions and recruitment. My position in the Honors program affords me the unique opportunity to support incoming students and families through recruitment to enrollment.

At orientation, we host a luncheon for incoming students and families. This is a small, intimate program led by Honors staff members. While most of the presentation highlights the student experience, from student stories to curricular requirements, we dedicate the final portion of the luncheon to parents and families. We share the four things that current honors students want their families to do to support them during college.

  1. Ask what they are doing
  2. Celebrate their successes
  3. Sympathize with their struggles
  4. Understand their academic and non-academic plans might change

While the transition to college is a fun, exciting, and scary time for students, their families experience many of the same emotions. At orientation, parents and guests are not usually able to attend student advising sessions. Further, many universities have separate itineraries for students and families. While both tactics are effective to take care of business and give the student agency to start their college experience on their own, it can seem like the parents and families are encouraged to “let their student go.”

The Honors luncheon is an opportunity to celebrate the transition to college, both for the students and their families. In an article discussing parental involvement for the traditional-aged college student, seven out of ten students said that they communicated “very often” with at least one parent or guardian throughout the academic year (NSSE, 2007). The article also noted that most students perceived their parents’ involvement to be “just right” (Higher Education Research Institute, 2008). While incoming students might physically leave their parent’s house to live closer to college or on-campus, parents and families are still supporting their student through the college process. As university staff, it is so important to see parents as partners in student success.

If you want to continue the conversation, I am the Region IV-W representative for the Parent & Family Relations Knowledge Community. Engage with us on Facebook: NASPA Parent and Family Relations KC and Twitter: @PFRKC.

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