Thousands of freshmen will descend on the University of Arizona campus this week to move into residence halls and begin their transition to college life.
Meanwhile, thousands of moms and dads also will be transitioning – to becoming the parents of a college student.
Whether they're sending the first of many children off to campus or preparing to deal with an empty nest, parents across the nation face a number of questions about the college experience. How can I help my son or daughter succeed academically? How do I know if he or she is safe? How often should I be in contact? How will the environment at home change without my child there?
The UA offers a number of resources to help parents navigate the change, including the Wildcat Family Conference (opens as a PDF) on Friday, sponsored by the UA Parents & Family Association.
The free conference, in its second year, is designed for parents of incoming freshmen and covers topics ranging from academic advising and campus safety to how to deal with "empty nest syndrome" and how to engage appropriately with a son or daughter on social media.
"It's a mix of some of what we think are the most important resources for parents to be aware of, to encourage their students to utilize, and also some resources for parents themselves," said Kathy Adams Riester, UA associate dean of students and director of parent and family programs.
Sessions will include one on UA traditions and another on "The Tucson Experience," both of which are being offered in an effort to introduce out-of-state parents to their student's new home and city. Attendees also will be able to participate in a Q-and-A session with UA administrators, including Andrew Comrie, UA provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, as well as a panel discussion with some of the University's renowned faculty members.
The event was designed to address questions that parents didn't get answered during New Student Orientation earlier in the summer, said conference organizer Lee O'Rourke, coordinator of parent and family programs in the Dean of Students Office.
And this is the time of year those questions roll in.
"Parents of new freshmen, especially those who haven't had other students in college, tend to be a little bit anxious about bringing their student to campus, whether they're coming from here in Tucson or across the country, and how their role in the relationship is going to change," Adams Riester said. "There are also a lot of logistical questions about how they get their students settled."
Beyond the conference, some other UA resources for parents include:
All members of the campus community are urged to sign up for UAlert, a free service that allows registered users to receive email and/or text alerts and updates in the event of a campus emergency. Parents of UA students are welcome to sign up for this service by visiting the Campus Emergency Response Team website.
UAccess Guest Account
The Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects the privacy of students' academic records. However, students can choose to grant their parents access to their academic and personal University information by setting up a UAccess guest account for them.
The Parents & Family Association offers a printable Student/Parent Agreement (opens as a PDF), where students and parents can outline how they will deal with a number of matters related to the college experience. That includes, but is not limited to: money matters and budgeting, how often students and parents should communicate or visit, and how students and parents agree to deal with unexpected problems.
When students call home because they feel overwhelmed or are dealing with a personal crisis, parents might not always know the best way to help. Parents Matter is a free consultation service, offered through the UA Campus Health Service's Counseling and Psychological Services. Parents call 520-621-3334 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with a counselor and get advice on how to talk to their student or where the student can go on campus for help with tough issues, such as stress, depression, eating disorders or homesickness.
Parents & Family Association
The UA Parents & Family Association is available as a year-round resource for parents, who can access a variety of articles and resources on the association's website, Facebook and Twitter pages. Parents also can call 520-621-0884 with questions. Those who join the association with a $100 donation will receive the UA's Parents & Family Magazine, published twice a year, and regular e-newsletters on special topics like move-in tips, how to talk to students about alcohol and more.
Finally, parents having a hard time saying goodbye might take comfort in the fact that an annual campus event designed to bring families together is only a couple of short months away. UA Family Weekend, featuring a wide range of activities, will take place on campus Oct. 17-20.