that mothers and fathers are more involved in their kids’ decision-making
processes and often accompany them to campus for orientation, many
universities offer concurrent sessions specifically geared toward
attendance has increased every year,” said Chris Greer (Dean
of Students). “When I went to college, my folks dropped me off,
waved goodbye and that was about it. But parents are more involved
in everything these days. They really want to know where they are
sending their son or daughter. We try to educate them about the
university experience, in a fun way, and make them feel comfortable
sending their kids here.”
parent orientation schedule begins on Monday evening with a pop
quiz on such diverse factors as how much, on average, students will
spend on entertainment and incidentals; how many alcoholic drinks
they will consume; and how many hours they will study on a weekly
basis. There are also questions related to students’ anticipated
GPA and how long it will take for them to earn their degrees.
take the same quiz in their first session and, through the miracle
of modern technology, we are able to compile those results before
the parent session,” Greer said. “We give parents the quiz, asking
them to respond first the way they think their son or daughter would
have and then reach a consensus at their table in terms of how the
majority of students would answer each question. A faculty member
sits at each table, moderating the discussion. There is a core group
of faculty who reliably participate each year, sometimes in all
five sessions. Every year a few more faculty members give it a try
and usually become regulars. They have a great time with it. …
quiz is followed by a reception hosted by the NMU president or provost.
Parents seem genuinely amazed that faculty participate in the program
and hang out at the reception afterward to talk with them one on
one and that they are able to mingle with the president or provost.
It makes it more personal for them.”
academic session Tuesday morning will cover liberal studies, program
and graduation requirements, advising and FERPA.
don’t necessarily like FERPA, but they seem to accept it once we
make it clear that it’s not just Northern’s policy; it’s a federal
law from 1974,” Greer said. “Even though it limits the information
we can give parents, we encourage them to call if they have any
questions. We would rather have them let us know their concerns
than sit and worry about them. The number of calls we get from parents
has increased dramatically.”
is an optional bus tour and picnic at Lower
on Tuesday afternoon. Remaining
sessions focus on the financial aspects of the university experience;
living on campus; and health and safety issues.
members attend the last session of the three-day program and sit
at a table with a group of parents. It is at this session that Greer
plays the “infamous tapes, which are kept under lock and key.” They
are recordings of students made many years ago, strictly for illustrative
the tapes, parents hear the student’s end of a phone call home about
a problem,” Greer explained. “One is on grades. Another is on homesickness.
One is on a conduct issue. One is, ‘I’m going to my boyfriend’s
for Thanksgiving this year instead of coming home to see you.’ Parents
discuss how they would and should react to these situations. Some
are light-hearted, but each gives us an opportunity to talk about
the related services we offer.”
orientation ends with wrap-up points for parent survival and lunch.
Greer said the response to the program is consistently positive.
summer we have parents walk up to us and say they’ve been through
orientation elsewhere and this one is so much better. I can say
that without tooting my own horn because I didn’t develop our program.
We’ve made a few changes, but it was really good when I got here.
Parents find it worthwhile, whether they are sending their first
or third child to school. They are grateful that we do it.”