Navigating Orientation

Dear Parents,

Let’s talk. I love that you want to come to orientation. Your support is great. It helps build the community and let’s be honest, we presenters love it when we see you in presentations because you are actually willing to sit and ask questions. You want to take the tours that we love to give. You are fun.

Now, why am I writing this letter to you. First, your experience can be a hindrance. Second, you are a headache in advising. Third, you are in this process with many other people so please get over yourself.

Several times I have given a presentation on getting involved as a student. We specifically talk about Student Organizations and Fraternity & Sorority Life. Inevitably, parents give me one of two looks. First, they give me this glare for suggesting that it is ok to get involved in a Fraternity or Sorority. This is always followed by them whispering not so quietly in their child’s ear that they will not get involved in that. The second response I get is that mom or dad that wants to rehash all of their stories from being in college, either as a student org member of a member of a fraternity or sorority. They want to know if things are as crazy now as they were back then, how to get the inside scoop on getting involved, etc. One mom stopped me to talk and wanted to know which fraternity I was in and then spent half an hour talking about the parties that fraternities threw at her undergrad. That is not the part of fraternity life I live, promote, or want to have these long drawn out conversations about during orientation. All of these above events lead to you damaging your students perception before they even enter college. Understand that this collegiate experience is your child’s. You have raised them their lives thus far, and college is a chance for them to become a person. Is that not a fair thing to let your student do? We call them students because they are learning, but you have to be willing to accept that as well.

Now for advising. The biggest mistake ever made at any orientation is to allow parents into an advising room. The parent obviously knows more about what classes the student should take and how to complete their degree than the advisor who is trained and works for the university on all of this. What could easily be a 20 registration session that leads to a student being prepared for classes in the fall turns into a multi hour chaotic event with the parent not accepting any answers the advisor gives. This inevitably leads to my third and final point:

Going up the chain…really? We have almost 6,000 students going through advising and registration, but by all means complaining that your student has to go through exactly what every other student does and insist that you get to speak to someone higher up the chain. Why bother with us, the folks trained and paid to help your student through this process, just go ahead and call that special friend you have on the board of regents since they will change everything. Our goal is to help your student succeed and graduate with a quality education. All that you generally manage to do is annoy us and leave us with a poor impression of your student. Let’s be honest, if this is what your student needs in order to get through college, they probably do not belong in this setting in the first place.

Help your student, support your student. But please, PLEASE, let your student be the student and let us do our job.


an annoyed staff member


About rigsurfer

A Brother of Delta Upsilon International Fraternity, Inc., Joined in Fall 2010. Completed a B.A. in English at North Carolina State University in 2013 and received a M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration at Texas Tech University in 2015. Passionate about Leadership and Diversity as well as Ducks, Scooby Doo, and reading.
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