U.Va. Handbook for Parents Engages Families as Partners in Student's Education

August 29, 2007

Aug. 29, 2007 -- Going off to college marks a critical time in the lives of both students and parents. Each is embarking on a new adventure: students are learning to become more independent and responsible, while parents are learning to let go and watch their son or daughter find their own way. To help ease the transition for both students and families, the University of Virginia has revised and updated its Handbook for Parents. It includes helpful information and resources not only about the University, but also the larger Charlottesville community. It also contains suggestions about ways parents can be involved in the life of the University.

The U.Va. Handbook for Parents includes "Ten Top Tips for Parents," that touches on questions ranging from course selection and choosing a major to taking time off and suggestions about pacing your advice, as well as tips "from Parent to Parent," who share their experiences.

Caroline G. Hemenway, mother of second-year student Austin Chamberlin, wrote, "Take them out to a good meal every time you visit. Send care packages every so often, especially the week before exams. They need less money than you think. Don't go ape over a low grade. It's part of exploring and not the end of the world. Nothing is worse than a hovering or uptight parent. We did a lot of listening. We left an 'independent' older teen at U.Va. and welcomed home an engaged young adult."

There's also a list of books to help parents understand changing relationships and their role in fostering independence during the college years and what the student, parents and family are experiencing, as well as information to help them understand the many issues that may arise during this time of adapting to change. The list includes "Letting Go: A Parents' Guide to Understanding the College Years," "Millenials Rising: The Next Great Generation" and "You're on Your Own (but I'm here if you need me)."

A new section this year outlines ways to prepare for the unexpected, ranging from a pandemic flu outbreak to severe weather or other unexpected emergency situations that are part of the times in which we live.

The colorful, image-filled handbook provides photographs of many of the leaders at the University who provide support to the students, so familiarity with faces they encounter around Grounds begins long before the student arrives at U.Va.

The U.Va. philosophy is that parents are partners in the educational process. To that end, the University embraces parents at summer orientation with sessions devoted to them and separate from the orientation events their son or daughter attends. The "Parent as Partners" Web site (www.virginia.edu/parentsaspartners/) and "Parent as Partners" e-mails, such as the recent one sent to parents about move-in day, reinforce that relationship and provide up-to-date information as needed.

A limited number of handbooks are available. To request one, e-mail vpsa@virginia.edu. A downloadable pdf version of the Handbook for Parents is available at www.virginia.edu/families/. The Office of Student Affairs also has a helpline for nonemergency questions: (434) 243-3333.