Thursday May 11, 2006

UD Staff Offer Advice in 'Must-read' Book

Two UD administrators responsible for welcoming students and parents offer advice in a new college guide called "a must-read" by CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien.

Two University of Dayton administrators responsible for welcoming students and parents offer advice in a new college guide called "a must-read" by CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien and "required reading" by Men's Health Magazine Michael Lafavore.

The Princeton Review Director of Communication Robin Raskin talked with more than 90 colleges as well as financial advisers, health experts, college students and parents to find out what people should know before sending a child to college for Parents' Guide to College Life.

Parents of incoming UD students also can find much of the advice Robert Johnson, UD vice president for enrollment management, and Christine Schramm, assistant dean of students, gave to Raskin about the parent-student relationships at UD's "VOParents."

Launched two years ago to go along with UD's 1999 launch of online orientation for incoming students, "VOParents" helps parents prepare themselves and their children for college and navigate the area surrounding campus. "VOParents" also has a forum in which parents can communicate with each other and UD faculty and administrators about becoming empty-nesters and other concerns.

In Raskin's book, Johnson acknowledges parents have complex feelings when their kids are in college, "but parents should be aware of these feelings and know other parents are experiencing them, too."

Schramm reminds parents, while their instinct is to "respond immediately…to fix things," it may be best to "give it 12 to 24 hours and let your student…resolve it themselves. You may find that it was not as big a 'crisis' as they reported."

Schramm added, "If you are truly interested in 'letting go,' then do it for a while and see how much…will unfold on its own."

If your child experiences an unjust situation, "the best lesson you can teach your student is how to handle those injustices," she said.

Raskin wrote that she received an overwhelming negative response to roommates' parents calling each other before move-in day.

"As long as the call is about you getting acquainted with the parents and not with the roommate through parents," a call should be fine, Schramm advised in the book. "Keep the conversation about you and your hopes and expectation as parents and not about the students. Leave that to the roommates to figure out and negotiate."

Besides college guides, parents of incoming UD students have each other.

Rosemary Nigro wishes UD's virtual orientation for parents existed four years ago when she brought her son to UD. As she brought another son to UD last year, "VOParents" made the journey a different experience.

"It's definitely a one-stop shop for information," said Nigro, who mostly shared her experiences as a UD parent in her online conversations. "I have lots of friends with children going to many different schools, and they were very jealous of our virtual orientation resource."

William Tobin was impressed with the openness and responsiveness of the parents who participated in the forums. He said he gained insight into UD's student neighborhood, what other parents are experiencing and where to find the nearest stores.

"You post a question and have multiple responses in two to three hours," Tobin said. "Finding stores may not seem very important in the middle of the summer, but it was important on move-in day when we needed to find one."

The parents of 442 incoming students already have logged into "VOParents" more than 1,450 times to share their concerns and to answer each other's questions since the site returned in March for this year.

Last year, the parents of 1,162 students logged into UD's "VOParents" more than 10,000 times and still were posting messages as their children were moving into residence halls in August.

For more information, please contact Shawn Robinson at (937) 229-3391.