Parents and Families

E. Royster Harper, VP for Student Life

In a few short weeks, many families will be making the trip back to Ann Arbor, this time with plenty of empty room in the car, to pack your student’s belongings and head home, if only for a moment. And the student you will be picking up will be a little different from the one you dropped off on that day at the end of summer: buzzing with new information, talking about people and things you’ve never heard of, but also in many ways more confident. Because what makes Michigan special is not just what students learn in class, but what they learn about themselves, and their power to make things happen.

It starts when your student does, with Student Life’s First Year Experience. From our years helping new students transition, we know the transformation from high school to college student involves more than getting a residence hall room and directions to the dining hall. So we set up to help your student acquire those beyond-the-classroom skills and experiences. When your student tells you about the friends they’ve made, be sure to ask them how they met: more often they realize, it was at an event organized by their First Year Experience Resident Advisor. Being connected to that first community gives students that early boost of confidence to explore the rest of the university.

And once our students get started, it is truly astonishing how much they can do. Take any of the big initiatives on the campus at any given moment, and you will find students just like yours providing the leadership and energy. Just this past year, multiple student organizations have come forward to champion mental health, giving their time and care to raise awareness and make the world better for their fellow students. Even the future of our iconic Michigan Union depends on our dynamic undergraduate, as student groups are the driving force behind the renovation.

Throughout all this activity and activism, your students still need you. They are still testing their powers, and just knowing that you are there to cheer them on can make a profound difference. And you don’t need to wait for them to call: while our students are superheroes when it comes to the causes of others, they often have a hard time asking for help for themselves. That’s why we’re glad to share this advice from students on what they need from you during finals.

As the support network for your student, we in Student Life marvel at what they achieve. And we know they couldn’t do it without their families. Thank you.


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