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Parents as Partners: The What, Why, and How of Designing an Effective Parent Orientation Program


Title: Parents as Partners: The What, Why, and How of Designing an Effective Parent Orientation Program Author: Katie Granholm Last modified by – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Parents as Partners: The What, Why, and How of Designing an Effective Parent Orientation Program

Parents as Partners The What, Why, and
How of Designing an Effective Parent Orientation
Presented by Katie Granholm, M.S. University of
Minnesota, Twin Cities
Todays Students
  • Todays students are
  • Respectful of social conventions institutions
    authority oriented
  • Financially dependent on their parents
  • Close to their parents
  • Initiating communication with parents parents
    are their best advisers
  • Savvy in technologyand use it all the time

Todays Parents
  • Todays parents are
  • Accustomed to guiding their students activities
  • In close contact with their students
  • Frequently college grads themselves
  • Experienced in changing institutions
  • Technologically savvy

College Costs
  • Rising college costs
  • Families finance the cost of a college education.
  • GenX parents are a consumer-drive generation-
    have options, used to shopping around for best
  • Parents expect a high return on investment.

Parent and Student Relationship
  • 70 of students say they communicate with their
    parents very often. (National Survey of Student
    Engagement, 2007)
  • Most students perceive their parents involvement
    to be just right. (Higher Education Research
    Institute, 2008)
  • Students who frequently communicate with their
    parents and follow their advice are more likely
    to participate in college activities and are more
    satisfied with the college experience. (National
    Survey of Student Engagement, 2007)
  • A healthy student-parent relationship is
    positively linked to overall college adjustment,
    including academic achievement and affective
    health, and these issues are all clearly
    demonstrated factors in student retention.
    (Austin, 2003, p. 138)

Views on Parental Involvement
  • Effectiveness of letting go messages
  • Helicopter Parents
  • Stereotypes and realities
  • Parents as partners

Parents Role in the Transition Process
  • Changes over time
  • Parents role during the senior summer
  • Parents role in first-year student success
  • Parents role long-term

Who Works with Parents
  • Admissions
  • Orientation
  • New Student Programs
  • Financial aid
  • Housing.

What is the Role of Parent Orientation?
  • In the absence of meaningful connections on
    campus, students will turn to parents for advice
    and guidance.
  • Familiarize parents with the resources available
    to new students and parents
  • Educate parents on issues related to student
    development and the adjustment process
  • Acknowledge the adjustment process that exists
    for parents/family members
  • Build an affinity with the University need for
    parents to feel connected to the institution

Best Practices in Parent Orientation
  • Benchmark programs successfully achieve balance
    with the following goals
  • Educating parents on first year academic and
    social transition issues
  • Identifying that consistent, trustful, and
    respectful communication helps with separation
    issues and supports attitudes and motivations
    helping students meet expectations
  • Parental encouragement and interest with student
    experiences helps them optimize college
  • Providing information on programs and services
    helpful to learning. (Hatch, 2004. p.44 )

What makes Parent Orientation Effective?
  • Clear Goals and Objectives
  • Collaboration
  • Institutional Commitment
  • Based on assessment of parent, student, and
    institutional needs
  • Assessment and feedback are shared

Questions to Consider
  • When developing a parent orientation schedule,
  • What do parents need to know about the college
  • What support do your students need from their
    parents during their transition?
  • What information do parents need to know in order
    for their students to be successful here?
  • What are parents most concerned about at the time
    of orientation?
  • How do we want parents to be involved in the
    college transition process?

Needs of Parents at the Time of Transition

Changing Relationships
Safety and Wellbeing
Needs Assessment
  • Institutional Feedback
  • What are your partner departments telling you?
  • Survey of Parents
  • Predict their students adjustment to college
    life issues
  • Main anxieties and concerns at this time
  • Survey of Students
  • What role does your parent play in your
    transition into college life?
  • How can your parent better support you?
  • Parent and Student surveys can be conducted
    before on-campus orientation, at admissions
    visits, by mail or email, at or following
    on-campus orientation.

Additional Considerations
  • Key Players
  • Program Design Logistics
  • Program Content
  • Implementation
  • Determining Success

Key Players
  • Who has a stake in Parent Orientation?
  • What key departments provide services related to
    parents concerns, anxieties, questions, and also
    provide timely and relevant information?
  • Who can be most helpful in getting your program
    off the ground?
  • Your office, parents, college/academic
    constituents, departmental partners, sponsors,

Program Design Logistics
  • What are your desired outcomes?
  • What is the ideal format for your program?
  • Time-frame program concurrent to student
    orientation or separate
  • Weekday vs Weekend program
  • Budget
  • Space

Program Content
  • Health, Safety and Wellbeing
  • Residence Life or Commuting Information
  • Campus Tour
  • Academic and Social Support Resources
  • Financial Resources
  • Academic Expectations, Requirements Policies
  • Faculty/Staff Interaction
  • Campus Involvement
  • Freshmen Seminars or Extended Orientation
  • Student Development Transitional Issues
  • Interaction with other Parents

  • Staffing and oversight
  • Presenters/Facilitators
  • Consistency Reliability
  • Dynamic presentation style
  • Relevancy
  • Program Format
  • May depend on space time considerations
  • Passive vs. active programs
  • Interaction with other parents, students, staff
  • Promotion Marketing

Program Evaluation Assessment
  • How will you determine success?
  • Accomplishment of learning objectives, active
    participation, attendance?
  • Program Evaluation
  • Go beyond demographic and satisfaction based
  • Eg After attending Parent Orientation, I have a
    better understanding of the student experience
    and resources available at the University.
  • Post-Orientation Follow-up
  • Web polls, online survey, focus groups

Overview of U of M Parent Orientation Program
  • Program for the parents/guests of incoming
    freshmen and transfer students
  • Concurrent with student program
  • Saturday program option
  • Costs
  • Freshmen 25 (advance registration) 35
    (on-site) 25 evening program
  • Transfer No charge
  • Promotion and Communication

Learning Objectives
  • By participating in Parent Orientation, parents
  • Have a better understanding of the U of M student
    experience and the resources available to
    students and parents.
  • Feel more connected to the University.
  • Feel better able to support their student and
    empower him/her to take responsibility while
    enrolled at the University.
  • Understand the academic expectations of their

Parent Orientation Schedule
  • 830-1030 Optional Morning Activities (with
  • 1030-1050 University Welcome (with student)
  • 1050-1105 Overview of Parent Orientation
  • 1110-1145 One Stop Student Services (financial
    aid, billing, registrar)
  • 1150-1220 Health Safety
  • 1220-115 Lunch
  • 130-220 College Meeting
  • 235-255 Break
  • 255-340 Housing/The Commuting Life
  • 350-405 Pieces of the Puzzle Campus Life
    Issues Preview
  • 405-430 Coaching Your Student
  • 450-515 U Card/ Reconnect with Student

Changing Relationships
Safety and Wellbeing
Lessons Learned
  • After participating in Parent Orientation,
  • 98 report feeling better prepared to assist
    their student in his/her transition into the
  • 98 report having a better understanding of the
    student experience and the resources available.
  • 96 report feeling more connected to the
  • 78 of parents understand what is expected of
    their academically.

Lessons Learned
  • Parents who did not attend Parent Orientation
  • Are less satisfied with universitys
    communications, services, and programs
  • Feel less connected to the university community
  • Visit student in person more often
  • 53.8 of non-PO parents visit one or more times a
  • 31 or PO parents visit one or more times a month

Filling in the Gaps
  • Underserved Populations
  • Parents of commuters
  • Parents of transfer students
  • Parents of first generation college students
  • Parents of students with disabilities
  • Non-Traditional parents single, guardians,
  • Parents of students of color
  • Parents of high-need students

Orientation Groundwork for the College Years
  • Consistency in message and policy
  • Clarified expectations
  • What comes next?

Tips for Success
  • Consistency in tone and messaging
  • Address first-fears first
  • Listen to your audience
  • Draw on your resources

Next Steps
  • Find out what parents need
  • Find out what the institution needs
  • Pull together your campus partners to begin the
  • Decide what is realistic and take action!

Additional Resources
  • University of Minnesota- Orientation First-Year
  • U of M Parent Program
  • Colorado State University Parent Orientation
    Schedule http//
  • University of Michigan- Ann Arbor Parent
    Orientation http//
  • NODA FYE Parent Guide Empowering Parents of
    First-Year College Students A Guide for Success
  • Administrations Promoting Parent Involvement-
    Annual March Conference in Boston- contact
  • NODA Parent Family Network http//www.nodaweb.o

  • Austin, D. (2003). The role of family influence
    on student success. In Ward-Roof, J. Hatch, C.,
    Designing successful transitions A guide for
    orienting students to college. Columbia, SC The
    National Resource Center for the First-Year
    Experience and Students in Transition.
  • Hatch, C. (2004) Parent and Family Orientation.
    In Fabich, M.J., Orientation Planning Manual
    2004 Edition. National Orientation Directors
  • Higher Education Research Institute. (2008). The
    American freshman National norms for fall 2007.
    Retrieved February 9, 2009, from
  • National Survey of Student Engagement. (2007).
    Experiences that matter Enhancing student
    learning and success. Retrieved February 9, 2009,
    from http//
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