Information for the parents of college students
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College Family Weekend or Parents’ Weekend Provides Multiple Opportunities for College Parents

You’ve probably already visited your child’s college several times.  You may have had one or more admission visits, an orientation visit, and then you dropped him off at the beginning of the school year.  However, each time you visited, both you and your student were still outsiders at the college.  College Family Weekends offer parents an opportunity to be hosted at college by their college student.  It is an important step for your college student and for you.

Most, but not all, colleges offer a Parents’ Weekend or Family Weekend – most often scheduled in late September or early October.  Family members (often including grandparents and siblings) are invited to come to campus to visit for the weekend, or for a long weekend.  The college plans numerous activities for family members, students actually clean their rooms, at some schools families may visit classes, and families and their students spend important time getting reacquainted.

Why Family Weekend matters

If Family Weekend is scheduled for late September or early October, it may feel as though your student just left for college.  For some families, it seems as though it has been forever since they’ve seen their student, and for other families it may seem very soon to be visiting. Colleges often schedule Family Weekend at this point while the weather is still nice, and well before students become involved in midterm exams and the very busy holiday and end of semester seasons.

Family Weekend is a great opportunity to check in on how your student is adjusting to  school.  She will be excited to “host” you and show you her room and her favorite places on campus, have you meet her roommate and her friends, introduce you to some of her professors, and generally show you how she fits into her new life.  Parents will often leave Family Weekend with a better sense of the experience of being at the school from their student’s perspective, and reassured that their student is settling in.

Planning for Family Weekend

Information about Family Weekend, including a schedule of activities, is usually available on the college website.  Parents may receive information about the event through the mail – even as early as the student’s acceptance or deposit.  Family Weekend often requires advance reservations or registration – especially for key popular events.  Also crucial, if you are traveling from a distance, is the importance of making travel and hotel reservations early.  Many local accommodations may be booked months – or even a year – in advance.  The longer you wait to make reservations, the further from campus you will need to travel to find a hotel.

Family Weekend events

In addition to providing an opportunity for families and their students to visit and reconnect, Family Weekend provides an opportunity for family members to experience the school in many ways.  Most schools offer a variety of events from which families may choose.  Some families will attend many events – staying busy for the entire weekend, while others may choose to attend only a few events and spend more time simply relaxing with their student.  Typical events might include the opportunity to attend classes with your student, an open house or brunch to meet and chat with faculty and administrators, an address or reception with the college president, performances by student groups, athletic events, possible events for younger siblings and family members,  honor society or award dinners, information panels or discussions, off-campus tours and events.  At some schools, Family Weekend may coincide with Homecoming – adding even more festivities to the event.

Family Weekend events are often more widely attended by parents of freshmen, but many parents continue to attend throughout their student’s college career.  Each year parents become more familiar with the school, their student’s friends, and families that they see each year.  Many families look forward to the visit each year, and actually become quite nostalgic when they attend their final Family Weekend during senior year.  While not every family will be able to take advantage of Family Weekend or Parents’ Weekend, try to attend if you can.  It marks an important transition for your student, and is a wonderful way to see your child in his environment and to recognize his growing comfort and independence.

Related Posts:

Ten Ways Parents of College Students Can Use the College Website

Parent Relations Offices Offer College Parents An Opportunity for Involvement

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