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Parents Fill Campus During Orientation at Appalachian

071000parent3_dl.jpgBOONE—Bill Ward’s audience paid close attention as he promised to deliver the secret to success at Appalachian State University.

Ward’s book-bag-carrying, T-shirt-wearing audience wasn’t students, however. The associate vice chancellor of academic affairs delivered his message to hundreds of parents attending parent orientation.

His tip for success—attend class regularly.

Appalachian has held orientation sessions for parents of incoming freshmen since the mid-1980s. Parents learn about student services, university policies regarding alcohol and drug use, roadblocks to student success, and how to best support their sons and daughters as they begin their academic careers.

Parents learn that it is possible for their college student to earn a degree in four years, with the proper planning.

It should surprise no one that parents flock to campuses to learn more about the college their son or daughter will attend in the fall. These are the same parents who have faithfully attended soccer, basketball and football practices, school plays and concerts, and chronicled every major event in their child’s life with a video camera.

They also are learning how to “let go” of the child who is quickly becoming a young adult.

Blimling told parents that the first two years of college are as much about developing social and physical competencies and learning to manage emotions as they are about academics.

“Your student has been working on independence for a long time,” Blimling said. “First they learned to walk, then drive a car. Now they are going to college and leaving you behind.” Blimling said that during the first two years of college a child tries to show how different he or she is from the parent. But by the time they graduate, they will have adopted their parents’ values as their own.

Blimling stresses that a college education is about learning inside and outside the classroom. “The more students invest themselves in the university, the more they will get from their college experience,” he said of incoming freshmen. “Involvement in the university, whether it be on a committee, in a club or organization, or through a campus job, is one of the predictors of who will graduate. It indicates a commitment to be here.”

In spite of parents’ intense interest in their child’s university education, it’s best to let students take charge of their own academic challenges and problems, advises College of Arts and Sciences Dean Linda Bennett. “They are unlikely to learn about their own ability to cope if they don’t learn it here,” she said.