Putting Parents to Work for your Retention Office


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Today, as institutions of higher education, we must include parents in ensuring that our (and their) students are successful. This presentation will engage higher education professionals in a thoughtful discussion about how orientation can be used to leverage parent relationships in retention initiatives. Institutions must begin partnering with parents from the point of inquiry. Utilizing the orientation period as an opportunity to do so develops those relationships as students embark on the most stressful part of their college careers. Orientation can be the gateway to partnering with parents to make certain that students are successful as they embark on the demanding college experience.

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  • The College Board Pilot Study on Student Retention released last April identified two primary issues 1.collecting more data collection for benchmarking. 2The other will be no surprise to most of you sitting in this room today. On average 60% of campuses have a designated retention coordinator, on average less that 1/3rd FTE’s are formally allocated to that role. More often than not, few resources are being allocated to efforts to increase student persistence. Less than half the institutions with a retention coordinator have been given the authority to implement new programs, and only 25% had the authority to fund new initiatives. The study re-enforces what most of you know, there are not enough people, hours in the day, nor money, to devote to retention effort. We must re-visit our potential resource capabilities and begin thinking outside the box if we are to create in roads to increasing retention rates.
  • In spite of all of the programs and services to help retain students, according to the U.S. Department of Education, Center for Educational Statistics, only 50% of those who enter higher education actually earn a bachelor's degree. In fact, graduation rates have remained static for over three decades. In a 2004 study by Habley and McClanahan their findings indicated a decline in graduation rates in both public and private four year institutions over the last 20 years! With limited and inadequate resources for retention programs and Federal and state policy makers increasingly using student persistence rates as a scorecard for excellence, another player needs to be added to the mix. …parents!
  • Source: 2007 National Survey of Student Engagement: First-Year StudentsInterestingly, the survey found that parental involvement may actually be an enriching experience. Students who are in frequent contact with their parents were found to have a more satisfying college experience. The same was true of students whose parents frequently contact college officials on their behalf. There can be such a thing as too much contact, though. The survey also found that students with 'hyper-involved' parents had substantially lower grades, implying that overboard involvement has the potential to inhibit academic performance.
  • Collaboration is a part of a continuum of connection. Today’s parents are different than in previous generations. In general they were very involved with their children’s K-12 educations. They might have been so involved, in fact, that it wouldn’t occur to them that college instructors wouldn’t welcome the same level of input. “The parents think it’s perfectly normal to ask a college instructor how he or she has graded a test or if their student can get more assistance.” Meanwhile, many of today’s college students (the millennial generation) think it’s perfectly normal to let their parents fight their battles. “They are not like Baby Boomers or Gen-Xers,”. “They trust their parents and consider them their top advisers”. Faculty members can turn such situations into opportunities to coach parents on how to guide their children appropriately while maintaining the integrity of the student-instructor relationship.What can parents do to help their children transition while allowing them the autonomy to be adults? College students are pretty overwhelmed their freshman year. Just like students, parents can be a jumble of mixed emotions: sadness over their baby leaving home, worry over partying , pride at their child's accomplishments, and perhaps relief over having a little more peace in the house. Building a strong partnership with parents may go a long way to increase student success on campus. College students have freshman orientation and guidebooks to help them, but where is the orientation session for parents? How can we use orientation to bring the parents in as collaborators and partners? What can parents do to help their children through this transition while allowing them the autonomy to be adults?
  • The College Board Executive Study in 2009 indicates that orientation provides a good opportunity to capture students with between 80% to 90% of students attending. There were no studies found that reflected parent attendance or involvement. ORIENTATION IS THE GATEWAY TO PARTERNING WITH PARENTS. Informed parents help to build and strengthen the pipeline between secondary and postsecondary education. How many of you track parent attendance at orientation? What you gestimate the rate is?Discuss with those sitting around you the highlites of parent information provided during orientation.Create Trust and a Shared VisionEstablished communication links
  • So how much is too much? We have already heard that parental involvement is a positive thing, but that helicopter parents can cause substandard performance from our students. So how do we develop relationships with our parents that foster a partnership among students, parents, and our institutions? How can we establish that at orientation?How many of you invite parents to orientation? What are your objectives? What are you hoping to accomplish by including parents?<<Document main objectives on flip chart>>It’s a fine line for parents between supporting their children and meddling. I’ve read some compare being a successful parent of a college student like being a coach: you’re there to support, cheer, redirect, and provide suggestions on plays, but you’re not the one actually playing the game. Instead you’re quietly on the sideline offering support and direction when needed.? Helecopter parents in college, transitionsSo how do your parents know whether to put their student on the bench or call in the medic? What about when to step in versus when to let their student muddle through on their own?We propose that orientation is the time and place for your institution to begin laying the groundwork to help parents begin to navigate these questions. By doing so, you set the students up to be successful, the parents up to experience a positive experience, and your institution up to have the parents on your side and acting as a true partner.
  • So you’re telling them that they can help you in your efforts to support their students. You’ve identified for them what you’re going to provide to assist them in doing so. Now what is it that you expect from them? What are you asking them to give you?First and foremost, you’re asking that they communicate with their students. Nothing that you will provide to them during orientation or after, will be of any use if they aren’t communicating with their students. Knowing who to call won’t help a parent of a student in trouble if the parent doesn’t know the student is in trouble.Next, you’re asking the parents to communicate with you. While you cannot provide information to the parents about their students due to FERPA, nothing says that parents cannot communicate with you about their students. So partner with your parents. Develop a relationship in which the parents understand the resources available at your institution, and how to work with you to ensure the success of their student.So how do you create communication between your institution and your parents? What can you provide to your parents at orientation to facilitate this?We recommend that you first give them an introduction of your resources – the people who are available to help students and how to reach them. You’ve got to be sure that your parents know what information you’re looking for. Let them know
  • So what is it that you can give your parents during the orientation period that will help them be successful in their new roles?We know that this is a really broad question and would take more than 50 minutes to address, so let’s talk about what you’re currently giving your parents? What are they walking away with when they leave your orientation?And how is that helping them help their students….and ultimately help you?What we want to share with you today are some thoughts on how you can prepare your parents to be the best coaches – let’s call them success coaches – possible; ones that support your retention efforts and that act as partners instead of hindrances.So when we did some informal reviews of parent orientation websites and literature, we found a few trends in what orientations offer for parents…Acquaint you with the policiesGet to know other parentsLearn about the campusLearn about majors and programsWe aren’t saying that those things are not important. However, what we are saying is that parents are smart. You can tell them where to get those items and they can manage. However, what they may not be able to manage on their own, is how they can help you help their students be successful. Orientation is a perfect time to guide them in how you need them to work with you and with their students.So we propose that at your orientation, you give your parents the tools they need to help their students be successful. We know that you are unable to be with each student on your campus. Faculty can provide you with alert information on who isn’t attending class and who is struggling; RAs can provide you with information on those students who seem to be struggling; even roommates can give information that may assist your retention offices in helping students be successful. However, engaging the parents in your institution’s retention efforts will add one more level of intervention to your retention efforts.So how you can do this through your orientation?First – we recommend that you tell parents exactly how they can help you.Secondly – give them the knowledge and tools to do so.Thirdly – help them to do so by providing them reminders and follow ups.
  • Putting Parents to Work for your Retention Office

    1. 1. Putting Parents to Work for your Retention Office<br />Presented by<br />ThinkTheThoughts.com<br />Sara Fiorille, Graduate Student, Drexel University<br />Debbie Ohl M.Msc, Graduate Student University of Sedona<br />
    2. 2. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advances. <br />Albert Einstein<br />
    3. 3. <ul><li>Persistence is the twin sister of excellence.
    4. 4. One is a matter of quality; the other, a matter of time.</li></ul> Marabel Morgan, The Electric Woman<br />
    5. 5. 2007 National Survey of Student Engagement<br />
    6. 6. Key Elements of a Collaborative Partnership <br /><ul><li>Build shared ownership
    7. 7. Create Trust and a Shared Vision
    8. 8. Established communication
    9. 9. Use a variety of approaches</li></li></ul><li>Set the stage during orientation <br /><ul><li>Why do you have an orientation program?
    10. 10. Are parents an active part of orientation? </li></ul>What are you hoping to accomplish by including parents?<br />
    11. 11. Create a balance between student autonomy and parental involvement<br />Helicopter Parents<br />Transition from High School<br />Parental involvement to support student autonomy<br />
    12. 12. What Parents Can Provide to You<br />Red Alerts<br />information to promote successful student <br />
    13. 13. So how do you create communication between your institution and your parents?<br />
    14. 14. Strategies You Can Give Parents<br />1st Tell parents exactly what they can do<br />2nd Give them the knowledge and tools to do so.<br />3rd Re-enforce 1 and 2 with reminders and <br /> follow ups.<br />inclusions<br />
    15. 15. Using parental information to promote successful student outcomes<br />Welcome information<br />Provide channels for input<br />
    16. 16. The future is not some place we are going to but one we are creating. <br />The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them <br />changes both the maker and the destination.<br />John Schaar, Political Scientist,<br /> University of Santa Clara<br /> Author, Loyalty in America<br />