September 12, 2008 by Audry Olmsted NMSU News Center
When a young person takes the first steps out of their home and enters a new life as a college student, it can be very difficult for supporting family members to let go, especially if the young person is going away to school.
Now, New Mexico State University has a way to allow families to keep an active role in their children’s lives through a new family website, listserv and webinars.
“The main reason for doing this is to get families to support their students in a healthy and knowledgeable way,” said Carmen Gonzales, vice president for Student Success, the division of the university that has created the website.
Gonzales said one of the things they’re finding out is that families really can help students be successful.
With the website, http://families.nmsu.edu, parents and family members can access a wide variety of information, from a calendar of events to services available to students. Visitors can locate important dates, such as the last day to add or drop a class, as well as information on housing, health and wellness.
“When students ask for help, parents now have access to resources that can help them point students in the right direction,” she said.
Through the website, parents can help their students find tutoring services or any other issue they might need help with.
Gonzales said the goal is to keep parents and family members informed on the resources and support available to their students. The university is not trying to infringe on a student’s freedom, but be supportive of them.
“We’re trying to help student’s families maintain a healthy involvement,” she said.
Visitors can also sign up for the Family Hotline, a listserv that sends out a twice-monthly newsletter that shares news and information about the university. Gonzales said that so far, more than 420 parents have signed up for the listserv, most of them doing so at student orientation.
“Since we started the Family Hotline, we have received requests for more information,” she said.
Also available on the website are webinars, or one-hour online seminars designed to help parents stay informed about topics such as student safety and financial aid. The free monthly seminars start at 7 p.m. In the first session, “Making informed decisions and getting connected,” families will learn about organizations on campus that support student safety and wellness. A question-and-answer session will be included.
The webinars will be recorded and available online for later viewing. The first session is scheduled for Sept. 16.
What will not be available on the site is personal information on a student, such as grades or contact information.
Gonzales said this is meant to encourage “helicopter parents” to support their student from a distance without taking control.
“As a parent myself,” Gonzales said, “I would have been very grateful to have had something like this.”
The hope through this new website is to enhance NMSU’s efforts to retain students and help them be successful.