Parents and Families

As the snow and coursework pile up in Ann Arbor, students are eager for Spring Break. U-M students choose among many options for break, including visits to friends and family, adventures in the outdoors, travel abroad and service trips offered by organizations such as the Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning.

Whether your student will spend the break volunteering, backpacking, exploring a new country, swimming and sunning down south—or doing anything else away from home—the temptation to offer parental advice may be too great to overcome. We’ve asked experts from across U-M to offer their thoughts on how students can stay safe and enjoy the break.

“We tell students: Plan your trip, write it down and communicate the plan to someone back home,” says Outdoor Adventures Assistant Director Lindsey MacDonald. She offers a few questions to ask students no matter what kind of trip they’re planning:

  • Where will you stay each night?
  • Do you have your transportation arranged?
  • What’s your budget?
  • Have you researched the area where you’re going? What are the safety concerns, and what sights will you not want to miss?
  • Have you checked the weather, and packed appropriate clothing?
  • What’s your plan in case of emergency?

For students who want to learn more about their destinations or how to prepare for their trips, several university offices can help answer questions—including the International Center and Outdoor Adventures.

If you’re concerned about alcohol or sex, don’t be afraid to talk to your student. Communicate your expectations. If students plan to drink during their trip, urge them to take a cab or public transportation instead of driving, University Health Service’s Mary Jo Desprez says. UHS’ “Stay in the Blue” program provides information to help students who drink understand how much they’re consuming. It’s also important to remember to respect sexual boundaries and ask for consent when engaging in any form of sexual activity, says Heather Colohan of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC).

The most important thing to remember? Spring Break should be about relaxing! By making sure your student has a plan in place and understands your expectations, you can put your own mind at ease and help your student have a safe, relaxing and fun break.