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Messages From Home

Many people underestimate the impact of sending a written message rather than a text or email. As parent and family program professionals, we are well aware that a card or package from home can change the course of a student’s day, week, or even semester.

There’s something special about holding a card in your hand and reading the message written in a loved one’s handwriting. It only takes a few minutes, but a hand-written message can have a lasting impact on the recipient.

UPIKE and IUPUI encourage families of first-year students to take a few minutes to write a letter to their student during summer orientation. With a similar concept, put in place at two different campuses, each program facilitates this activity a bit differently. Check out the step-by-step processes below and comment with your input!
UPIKE Step-by-Step Process By: Stephanie Stiltner (
Families are invited to write notes to their students throughout the academic year. We include a list of suggested d…
Recent posts

A Family Host Program for International Students

Kendra Morehead
Assistant Director of International Student Services
Center for Diversity and Inclusion The College of Wooster

Here at The College of Wooster, our students are invited to participate in the Friends of International Students (FIS) Host Family Program. This is a non-residential host family program with the goal of connecting students with local families who will support their experience here in Wooster and to provide an opportunity for cultural exchange. It is run through the International Student Services branch within the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) here at the College, with the help of a number of volunteer coordinators who are active within the Wooster community.

The FIS Host Family Program is introduced to students before they even arrive on campus. ISS provides these incoming students with information about the program, while the International Student Orientation Committee volunteers, many who are part of the program themselves, often speak about their rela…

Building An Inclusive Family Weekend

Debra Zarecky
Director of Parent and Family Programs, Office of Alumni and Family Relations
Colorado College
For many parents and families, especially for those with first-year students or those who are first-time college parents, Family Weekend is an eagerly anticipated opportunity to reconnect and enjoy time together while exploring their student’s “home away from home.” For some students, however, Family Weekend can be an uncomfortable or even painful reminder of family who will not be visiting, whatever the reason. Especially on a small campus of about 2,000 students, it is quite obvious who has visitors and who does not.
As part of Colorado College’s institutional commitment to inclusion, the Office of Parent and Family Programs works to find ways to make Family Weekend an event that both celebrates all members of our campus community and welcomes parent and family visitors.
·Words matter. A few years ago, we changed the name of our event from Family Weekend to Family and Friends …

The Importance of Campus Partnerships

Andrea Mitchen, Assistant Dean of Students at the University of Houston

As I reflect on another year of Family Weekend at the University of Houston, I am reminded of all the people on campus I am lucky enough to call campus partners who make my job (and my life) easier. In a role that has Parent and Family Programs as fifty-percent of my responsibility, I came in knowing that in order to be successful and serve parents and families effectively I would need help. In fact, my sanity depended on it!

In the spring of 2017, I had this crazy idea to move our Friday night opening BBQ to the club level of the stadium the night prior to a football game whose time would not be announced until 10-14 days prior to game time (welcome to having Family Weekend on a football weekend at a school that now gets some TV coverage). Prior to my Family Weekend Committee meeting, I visited with my campus partners in Athletics to discuss the stadium tour the year prior and how we could improve our participa…

Reflections on My First Year

Sandy Cardoza, Johnson & Wales University
Providence, RI

Last December, after spending 20+ years with Johnson & Wales University’s Enrollment Management team, I transitioned to a position with our New Student Orientation & Support Programs area, focused on parent & family relations. The decision didn’t come easily for two main reasons. First, I had never worked in Student Affairs before. Did I have what it takes to succeed in this area? Second, it was a big change, and that’s something of which I haven’t always been a fan.

As I approach my one-year anniversary in my new position, I am so thankful I accepted this challenge. It has presented me with opportunities to expand my network of JWU colleagues, to work with student leader development through our Orientation Team, and to assist families throughout their student’s college transition and enrollment.
This past summer, I interacted with more than 1,200 parents and family members who participated in our eight Orientation s…

What is the right amount of involvement for parents?

Patrick Spence, Ph.D., The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago, IL
Like many of us, I spent the last few weeks of the summer leading our New Parent Orientation, responding to Facebook posts (what size sheets to they need again?), or speaking to parents on the phone.  While their inquiries vary, I really feel that they are all asking one basic question.  How am I supposed to do this?   How do I both stay involved and detach myself?  How do I support them when I don’t see them every day? What should I do when they encounter a struggle?  My experience is that while students seem nervous at the beginning of their time in college, the parents are even more nervous about the transition—their own transition to parent of a college student.  On my campus at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), our team is also responsible for New Student Orientation.  We spend quite a bit of time on talking about how to be a college student.  We talk about wellness decisions, academic d…

Insights from our NODA Family Interns

Dr. Kelly Dunn, Johnson & Wales University Anyone who collaborates orientation knows just how much work goes into creating a rewarding experience for students and families. As the Director of New Student Orientation & Support Programs at Johnson & Wales University (RI), I recognize our program’s success stems directly from our campus partners, including our NODA graduate interns whom we refer to fondly as “NODAs.”
During my five years at JWU, we have hosted 15 NODAs, five working directly with our Family Orientation program. I am grateful for the hard work, energy, and perspective that these interns bring. As I reflect on another successful summer orientation attributed to these interns, I’ve asked some of our Family NODAs to provide feedback about the internship experience. I hope those of you who haven’t had the chance to work with an intern in your family programs consider offering an internship in the future – their support is invaluable.  
Molly McCurdy: Indiana Universi…