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What to Expect During Parent/Family Weekends
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By: Elana Goodwin, Uloop
While a few tears may be shed when you drop your student off at school and leave them there on move-in day, most universities have a parent/family weekend within the first few months of the semester, so you will see your student again pretty soon.
Your first visit to your student’s new home away from home can be exciting but also come with its own challenges and stresses. Here’s what to expect during parent/family weekends.
Due to so many parents and families taking advantage of these weekends and coming to visit their students, you will want to plan ahead and decide early on whether your family will be attending the visiting weekend at your student’s school.
If you decide to go, you will want to then book a hotel in advance as they will and do fill up quickly. You also will want to consult your student about where they would suggest or might want to go for dinner and make reservations there too as many parents or families and their students will have the same idea and restaurants will also fill up.
If there are certain campus events or other activities you want to do with your student and family while visiting for the weekend, plan ahead and purchase tickets, make reservations, gather information, etc. Doing these things early on in the weekend planning process will ensure you’ll get to go to whatever you want to go to and do whatever you want to do.
Freshmen and other students, especially if they do not have a car on campus, may look at you visiting as an opportunity to shop or buy things they did not originally bring with them to school. Expect to hit a store or two during your weekend as your student asks you to play chauffeur so they can pick up items they need for the semester.
It is likely they may need to stock up on groceries, toiletries, school supplies, etc., and you being there with a car will make it easier for them. Additionally, touch base with your student before the family weekend so you can find out whether they want or need you to bring items from home for them that they didn’t bring with them for whatever reason when they moved in, like warmer clothes, a favorite baked good, or something else they need or will enjoy.
Schools will organize lots of events and activities for your family to do during the visiting weekend. Some things may be for your student and their siblings, others just for parents, and some for the whole group.
Take advantage of the various things on the college’s agenda but do not hesitate to skip some things if your family is not feeling a particular activity. You’re there to spend time with your student on their turf, so be flexible when it comes to following the university’s schedule and let your student somewhat take the lead and decide what the family participates in.
If your student does not want to go to an activity, encourage them to instead give you an inside peek at what their daily life on campus is like, give your family their own private tour with them as a guide, or show you what their favorite spot on campus is.
Your student may find it a bit hard to have their family at their college — so know that being back together may take some getting used to for them. Living at school, they are now used to being more independent, doing what they want when they want, and not worrying about anyone else. It is important you recognize this and try to make this solo-to-family adjustment as easy as possible for them.
That means being positive and not commenting on their outfit, the state of their room, their friends, etc. as it will only put a strain and damper on the weekend. Focus on being together and try to carve out time for each member of your family to have some one-on-one time with your student at the school during visiting weekend so everyone feels like they got some special time together.
Additionally, while you may want to spend the entire weekend with your student, keep in mind they may have homework to do or a meeting to attend during the weekend you are visiting — so you may need to adjust your expectations and plans to accommodate their needs.
Ultimately, parent/family weekend can be a great opportunity for your whole family to spend some time together at your student’s university and will allow your student to show you their school. By knowing what to expect, you can be that much more prepared before the weekend arrives so you can make the experience a great one for your student and the whole family.
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