Parents Weekend usually falls about halfway into the fall semester at most colleges. The campus will have some scheduled activities planned for students and their parents. If your student is further away, it may be your first opportunity to see them in person, check out their fully-assembled dorm room, meet their friends, and see where they hang out on campus.
To make the most of this opportunity, you need to be prepared before showing up to see your student. There are a few things you can do that will help you and your student have a great visit:
Respect Your Student’s New-Found Independence
When we went for orientation at my oldest daughter’s college, there was a great session with a psychology professor. He talked about the transitional phase that new college students go through. They want to be independent, but they still need their parents for guidance when they ask for it.
Remember, you are on their turf now, and they want to show off how they are managing on their own. We decided to let our daughter take the lead and plan out our time during Parents Weekend.
Bring Treats from Home
Your student will be craving home-cooking and any snacks or special treats that aren’t available at school. My daughter requested her favorite pita chips from the grocery store at home. Home-baked cookies and muffins are always a big hit. You can ask your student for requests a few weeks before the visit, but special surprises will be appreciated, too.
Plan for Optional Time Away
As heartbreaking as it may sound, your student may not want to spend the entire weekend with you. We were already prepared for the possibility that our daughter may need some down time at Parents Weekend because she had a cross-country meet a few hours away the night before. We planned to let her sleep in Saturday morning and meet up with us when she was ready.
Make sure you have a contingency plan to allow everyone to take a break from each other. Whether it’s a couple hours to relax back at your hotel, take in the local sites, or do some shopping, there’s bound to be something you can offer up if you sense your student wants some alone time.
Give Positive Feedback
I tend to criticize an unmade bed or clothes lying on the floor without even thinking about what I’m saying. I had to tell myself to relax and not say anything critical at Parents Weekend. I have discovered with my daughters that the minute I criticize their worlds, they get on the defensive and then nobody has any fun. Make your student feel good by making lots of positive comments.
Parents Weekend can be an exciting time for everyone to reconnect. Before you go, take some time to get prepared in order to have the best visit possible.
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