With Move-In Day well behind us and the semester underway, next up on parents' calendars is Parents' Weekend. While most Parents' Weekends fall in line with the school's football or sports schedule and can be anytime during the first semester, it's never too early to start planning. Follow these tips to be prepared and enjoy the weekend:
Get reservations early: Local hotels and motels fill up quickly for Parents' Weekend. As soon as you know the dates, make your travel arrangements. Any games, theater productions or other ticketed events may require pre-purchase as well.
Pack appropriately: Check the weather and pack accordingly. Be prepared to walk a lot, dress for hot or cold weather and bring any left-behind items that your student forgot at home.
Catch a glimpse: Be enthusiastic to see a slice of your student's life at college. Participate in open houses, faculty lectures and special campus tours. Eat campus food, meet your student's friends and get to know other parents as well.
Delve into university resources: Now that your student has the basics of college figured out -- dorm life, roommates, registering for classes, etc. -- check out what resources the college has to offer. Study abroad programs, career preparation, sororities and fraternities may be options to look into with your student during Parents' Weekend.
Go shopping: Especially if this is your first time seeing your student since he/she moved to school, expect a few trips to stock up on food, dorm necessities or even clothes for the coming season.
Meet with administration: If you have specific questions about finances, scholarships or academic advising, call before Parents' Weekend to make an appointment. While there will likely be faculty and administrators present throughout the weekend, they won't be available to sit down and talk with all parents who have questions.
Consider the family: Some universities have weekends for full families, including activities for young siblings. Others have activities appropriate only for college-aged students and older. Check the agenda to make sure it's a good idea to load the whole family up in the car for a drive to Parents' Weekend.
Get out in the community: One of the perks for college students whose parents visit is a break from campus food. Take your student out to dinner and explore the restaurants in the area. If your student is considering living off-campus next year, also check out nearby apartment/rental costs.
Plan for maintenance: Students who are a few months into living independently still need a little help from Mom and Dad. Allow for time to take care of things that might not be on your student's radar, like getting an oil change, getting a haircut - unless your son is purposefully going for the unkempt look, of course -- or even washing towels and sheets.