Family weekend….are you ready? My enthusiasm for this annual event is paralleled to Todd Chrisley’s joy when a camera is pointed his way. Seriously. I live for Family Weekend at Cee Cee’s university! We learned a lot that first year, and I have 3 Tips for Family Weekend at Your Child’s College to help you navigate it like a pro.
Colleges and universities like to put their own twist on Family Weekends. Some set fall dates for the event, others set February or late spring dates. Regardless of the calendar or the activities slated for Family Weekend, there is one constant variable: family.
Here are the 3 Tips for Family Weekend:
1) Be Flexible
The college will have lots of activities for your family specifically designed for this weekend. Most are offered on an a la carte basis: you will register and pay for only those activities that are meaningful to you. If you are like me, you will want to sign up for EVERYTHING!
Big Tip: Talk to your son or daughter BEFORE registering for anything. Let them tell you what sounds interesting and beneficial. Guess what? They may not want to do anything at all! During Cee Cee’s sophomore year, she really just wanted to show us her new town, her sorority house where she was living, and her new friends. This picture below was taken while touring a popular distillery:
What a happy, fun afternoon! We paired up with one of Cee Cee’s sorority sisters and her family in lieu of the university’s activities. The six of us had the best time exploring the local area! Now, you most likely will be able to work in one or two activities that are university sanctioned, just talk to your student first!
They may want a break from their dorm room, and may prefer to spend time with you away from the campus. More often than not, students prefer to escape to the hotel room with you in the evening instead of hearing their roommate snore all night. Again. Plan accordingly with hotel. Downtime in a hotel room together can be a great time to see how your son or daughter is really doing. We love tossing in a card game like this one when we visit Cee Cee.
2) Hold Off on Big Topic Discussions until Thanksgiving or Christmas Break
This one is hard, I know. Grades & Finances. How much have they spent? What is their unexcused absence rate? What is their current GPA? After all, you are either paying for their tuition or they are on a scholarship…..grades are important!
Now, if your student is on the verge of being placed on probation with the university and/or their scholarship is in jeopardy, you will need to be on top of this from all angles. That said, their academic and financial status should not dominate the weekend like a dark cloud. You have time on your side (so does your student!) and you both can work through particulars when they are back home in familiar territory or before you arrive.
3) Book Ahead for Next Year!
As you now know, popular hotels (a.k.a. those close to the university) fill up fast. Make sure your reservation is refundable in case plans change. When we book our flights for Family Weekend, we also purchase the additional Trip Flex insurance with the airline. This additional fee is worth it to us; we’d rather lock in the low prices and pay for the insurance versus buying full fare priced tickets at the last minute.
So, now you know how to prepare you and your student for Family Weekend!
I would be remiss if I did not share with you 2 (kinda important) “don’t’s” . These are really non-negotiables…….
Family Weekend Don’ts…..
Don’t plan on spending the weekend meeting up with your old sorority sisters and sipping Azalea Belles, or visiting your band mates, soccer team buddies, etc. This weekend is to focus on your son or daughter. You had your heyday on campus, now it is their time! Set aside another time to see your friends.
Don’t corner a professor with hopes of discussing Junior’s grade. Here’s why: In college, the student is supposed to be their own advocate. If a discussion is in order, it will be between your Junior and the professor. Parental engagement is highly frowned upon, and will do more harm than good to sweet, dear Junior.
Legally, your student has rights and the professor cannot disclose details to you anyway. So save face and let Junior move forward.
While you are on campus, plan on taking your student to the store to stock up on yogurts, fresh fruits, shaving cream, deodorant, etc. If your student did not sign their HIPPA medical authorization form during orientation, now is a good time to cross it off your list and get it on file with the university.
Plus, it gives you another excuse to roam the campus! 🙂