Education

Parents can help students succeed in college

Your senior just graduated and you’re beginning to relax, knowing that you successfully guided your child through high school. Now, you think, it’s time for your child to independently navigate his or her way through college. Your senior just graduated and you’re beginning to relax, knowing that you successfully guided your child through high school. Now, you think, it’s time for your child to independently navigate his or her way through college.

Not so fast.

More and more parents of college students are staying involved in their child’s life after high school and that is a good thing, because parent involvement translates into student success, says Marjorie Savage, parent program director at the U of M.

“Research tells us that students with involved parents tend to do better academically and socially,” Savage says.

However, few parents of students of color attend parent orientation or become involved in other ways, a situation university program directors are trying to change. The lack of parent involvement could stem from how things traditionally worked when children leave for college, Savage says.

In the past, parents used to move their children into residence halls, say goodbye and the children would be on their own, said Savage, who has worked in parent programs for 11 years.

“When I started in this field, the message was for parents to let go,” Savage says. “About five or six years ago, I noticed a change in the student population. Students didn’t want their parents to completely let go.”

Universities no longer want parents to completely let go either, she said. The unwritten rules for parent involvement in college-age children’s lives have changed, and there are many appropriate ways for to remain involved. For parents of freshmen, Savage recommends that parents attend parent orientation.

Parent orientation helps you become more familiar with the school. If you know what is happening on campus and what kinds of resources the college or university provides, you can help support your student’s academic, social, health and personal development.

Often, the college or university will include parent orientation information with student orientation materials, so ask your child about it. For U of M parent orientation information, go to http://www.ofyp.umn.edu/parents.html

At the U of M, parent orientation runs in conjunction with student orientation, but you will attend separate sessions. Parent activities will include residence hall tours, an overview of computing on campus, a financial aid session and a workshop on how to coach your student. U of M orientation continues through July 16.

If you can’t make it to parent orientation, contact the parent program office at your child’s school to find other ways to get involved. To reach the U of M Parent Program office, call (612) 626-9291 or e-mail parent@umn.edu. While getting involved takes time, it is worth it, Savage said. “When parents understand the U of M, students stay in school, graduate on time and do better,” she says.

7/05/2004

July 5, 2004
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